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Marcus shelves plan for liquor in mall theater in Fargo, for now

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FARGO – Marcus Theatres is shelving its plan to offer liquor in movie theaters here, citing reluctance from community leaders and residents.

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When Marcus, which operates Fargo’s two major first-run theaters, proposed setting up a lounge and bar area in the West Acres Cinema in February, it was met with resistance from some, including Mayor Dennis Walaker, who said movie theaters were a family-friendly environment that didn’t need booze.

Bob Menefee, the company’s vice president of marketing and communication, said in an interview Thursday that the initial pushback made Marcus reconsider their plans.

A “Take Five Lounge,” which would’ve served liquor and beer along with food, is no longer being included in the multi-million dollar renovation of West Acres Cinema, at 4101 17th Ave. S., Menefee said.

“We rarely get any reluctance, so you know, we need to measure that,” Menefee said. “We don’t want key community leaders and our customers in the community concerned about our business tactics. So yes, I think that’s why we’re really slowing this down.”

In an interview Thursday, Walaker said he still does not support liquor in theaters.

“I want some place in this community where I can take my grandsons to something we all enjoy without having to have alcohol there, so that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

Once the other theater renovations are complete, Menefee said company officials will reconsider applying for a liquor license. That could happen in June or July, he said.

“It’s a nice amenity for us to have in select theaters,” Menefee said. “But we ran many years without a can of beer or a gin and tonic in a theater, so you know, we’ll just have to see what’s appropriate going forward, and I think that’s the key. We want to measure the community response to this.”

West Acres Cinema is still getting a Zaffiro’s Express, a small restaurant that serves pizza, sandwiches, salads and desserts, Menefee said. Renovations to the lobby and seats at Century Cinema, 3931 9th Ave. S., are nearing completion, he said.

Marcus has Take Five Lounges in four other cities – Duluth, Minn., Mequon, Wis., Brookfield, Wis., and three lounges in Omaha, Neb. They also have full-service restaurants with alcohol service in Mequon, St. Cloud, Minn., and New Berlin, Wis.

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Erik Burgess
Erik Burgess covers city and county government for The Forum. He started as the paper's night reporter in 2012, after graduating from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. He was born and raised in Grand Forks, N.D., and also spent time interning at the Grand Forks Herald.  Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to letters@forumcomm.com
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