Yesterday, a friend of FIPS tipped us off to a scathing review on the Pavilion theater's FB page:
Earlier today your manager, escorted by two police officers, forcibly ejected me from your theater. The offense -- not rowdiness disturbing other patrons, no smoking or anything comparable -- simply the fact that I brought a container of fruit into your theater and refused to either throw it away or leave the theater (without a full cash refund). I am not a "activist" or a "rabblerowser" -- what I am is a 41-year old type II diabetic who loves movies and would like to be able to see them in public and enjoy a healthy snack.
I am fully willing to pay the ridiculous theater mark-up for concessions as I realize that most theaters would not be profitable without them but the theater industry (including yours) has never seemed to care enough about the health of its patrons to offer healthier options on a consistent basis.
What most other theaters HAVE done is take the common sense approach of selectively enforcing their rules against outside food to effectively allow patrons to discretely make this choice for themselves provided they do so in a manner than doesn't compromise the sanitation (i.e., not throw nutshells on the floor) or aesthetics (i.e., not bring in hot food) of the theater.
I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to understand that your theater continues to operate at the pleasure of its local community -- it's a pretty run down structure that hasn't had any palpable investment by its owners in many years, has frequent HVAC issues and, frankly, indexes pretty high on the "stick floors" scale. What it has goes for it is a vibrant Park Slope community willing to overlook all of this because we love movies and want a local theater. That said, we're also one of the most health conscious communities in the city and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that your theater should not want to be seen as the forced purveyor of junk food to its patrons/their children.
I think it goes without saying that I won't be patronizing your theater again any time soon but I'd invite you to take the time to consider revising your policies to better reflect the community you serve. No one is asking you to stock granola or grapes in your concession stand if you don't believe you can do so profitably -- but calling the "cops" on a neighborhood father of three for discretely bringing in a closed container of strawberries is beyond ridiculous and, if you don't revise your policy, I feel pretty confident getting our community to move their movie dollars elsewhere will be pretty easy.
I invite any friends neighbors who feel similarly to post to the wall (or like this posting) to let the Pavilion's management understand public opinion on this point.
We followed up with Michael Kass, who elaborated on the details of how this shiz went down. Just after he handed his ticket to the guy at the door, he was stopped and asked what was in the bag he was carrying. He showed them that it was a closed container of strawberries. The worker said he would have to throw them out or leave the theater. Kass said he would leave if they gave him a refund and they refused. They called a manager over. The manager insisted this was the policy and repeated that Kass would have to throw out the closed container of strawberries or leave without a refund. This is all before his movie started, before he even entered his specific movie's theater. HE'D JUST HANDED THEM HIS TICKET. He refused unless they would refund his ticket, and proceeded into the theater where his movie was showing. Kass sat down and waited. He did not open the container or start eating the strawberries. Within moments, the manager returned with two police officers, who escorted Kass off the premises.
That is just fucking insane. WHY DO PEOPLE KEEP GOING TO THIS SHITHOLE???
After this story got picked up by The Village Voice, Gothamist, and The New York Post, Michael Kass finally heard from the manager of the Pavilion, and offered this update on the Pavilion's Facebook page:
I spoke with your owner earlier this morning and I was glad that we were able to resolve the matter raised by the incident on Sunday. In short, your owner:
1. Apologized for the incident and offered a refund of my ticket.
2. Agreed to change your policy regarding outside food. You will remove the sign at the entrance regarding this and, patrons will be permitted to bring in outside food provided that the management reserves the right to selectively prohibit it to the extent it would compromise the sanitation or aesthetics of of the theater.
3. You will explore (with my help) partnering with a local merchant to facilitate the opening of a snackbar on the mezzanine level serving healthy snacks. I invite any interested local merchants to contact me via FB or twitter
4. You have requested my involvement in soliciting the community to provide input on your ongoing plans to renovate the theater. You have requested the communities' support in streamlining regulatory approvals you require to undertake these renovations (e.g., replacement of seating, physical renovation).
The owner repeatedly referenced his desire to get community involvement in the renovation of his theater and expressed frustration regarding the permitting/regulatory hurdles involved in fixing many of the issues cited elsewhere below. He'd like to form a group of neighborhood residents that can provide input into his renovation plans and, by implication, assist him in pressing for the permitting needed to effectuate them.
As I feel strongly that Park Slope deserves a nice, community-oriented theater for 1st run movies, I'd be very pleased to be so involved. Please contact me via FB if you would also like to be involved and we can organize an informal group to provide this input/assistance.