UPDATE: Machesney Park board approves movie theater liquor sales

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Updated July 3, 2018, 6:38 p.m.

UPDATE: MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (WIFR) - Machesney Park trustees unanimously vote to approve liquor sales at Showplace 14.

Village Administrator Tim Savage says AMC now must apply to sell alcohol under the new movie theater liquor ordinance. He expects that application to come in within the next month. Once AMC does apply, the village board will then vote to approve an agreement.

If all is approved, Savage expects alcohol sales at Showplace 14 could begin by this fall.

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Updated: June 18, 2018, 10:31 p.m.

UPDATE: MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (WIFR) -- The consideration to allow liquor sales in a Machesney Park theater passes the first reading.

In 2017 AMC representatives say 76 percent of moviegoers were over 21 years old. That's why they're working to attract more of that demographic to the theaters.

"What we've seen is a really dramatic shift ove rhe past five years," said AMC Director of Alcohol Operations Frank Lewis.

Lewis says the nearly 100-year-old company has worked to adapt to the changes in the theater industry.

"From a demographic shift of really moving from, in the mid-80's and 90's it was very much a teenage hangout, so a large percentage of guests going to the movies were largely under 21," said Lewis.

That's why his company is in the process of getting the go-ahead to serve alcohol at their Machesney Park AMC 14 location to attract the growing over-21 crowd.

Right now, AMC is serving alcohol in 24 different locations in Illinois. Lewis says they work hard to make sure those sales don't hurt the movie-going experience.

"We're very focued on making sure that, two different things, one that we're keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors, and 2 that we're not letting poele consume to the point of intoxication," said Lewis.

While this was only the first reading of AMC'S intent to apply for a license. Machesney Park leaders say they are excited to start the process.

"After hearing the presentation, I'm really excited about the ammenity. It's really going to enhance the experience of the movie-going patron," said Machesney Park Village Administrator Tim Savage.

"We think it's the right thing to do for our community," said Lewis.

Guests will be limited to buying 2 drinks at one time and must show their own i-d along with the ID of anyone for who they are buying a drink.

Lewis says the average amount of drinks purchased by moviegoers during one movie typically is around one per person.

After tonight's meeting, there will have to be a second reading, and then the village will move forward with creating an ordinance that allows them to start accepting liquor licenses for movie theaters.

Some have said they are not in support of this change because it will take away from the family friendly atmosphere of movie theaters.

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Posted June 18, 2018, 5:50 p.m.

MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (WIFR) -- Nearly 300 AMC movie theaters across the country sell alcohol. As having a drink at the movies is becoming a growing trend, one local theater could soon be serving alcohol and some movie goers aren’t sure if it’s a good idea.

"It's not the club, it's not the bar. It’s just a recipe for disaster,” said moviegoer Sidra Moore.

Sidra Moore takes her kids to the movies several times a year. She says a movie theater isn't the right place to serve alcohol.

“A lot of times the environment that is produced when you're drinking alcohol is not a very family friendly environment,” said Moore.

Machesney Park is considering creating a liquor license to allow alcohol to be served at the AMC Showplace 14 Theater.

"They see it as an amenity that will enhance the movie going experience for adults,” said Village administrator Tim Savage.

The village liquor commission gave a favorable recommendation to create the license but some residents like Moore disagree.

“I just don't think it's the proper place considering you have so many different age groups that could be affected by that,” said Moore.

While some believe serving alcohol inside the theater is a bad idea, others say as long as it's monitored it shouldn't be a problem.

"I’d assume if anyone is going to apply for a license, they're going to be training people right,” said moviegoer Eric Miller.

"We'll be adjusting the language on hours of operation where they can stop serving alcohol at a certain hour, say 2 a.m. like all other establishments, but will still be able to remain in the building to finish up a movie,” said Savage.

The village says adding another way to get people into businesses will benefit the community and believe most board members have confidence it will be managed correctly.

“It's a national trend and becoming more popular so, so far, favorable,” said Savage.

Representatives from AMC will be presenting at the village board meeting Monday night. The city of Rockford is also considering a liquor license for showplace 16.

Communications coordinator for AMC Kimberly Sanden said in a statement, “responsible service is of the utmost importance to AMC, and we employ a variety of tactics to help ensure responsible service. As part of the process of exploring our options in Rockford, we are currently working with local officials."