Monday, April 27, 2009

There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch (and is there no common courtesy any more?)

Well, Nathan and I learned (again...) that there's no such thing as a free lunch.

These movie houses which double as restaurants are sweeping Texas (don't know how long they've been other places, but they are sprouting all over the place here).  Ours is Studio Movie Grill.  If you have been to one, skip the next section; if this is a new concept for you, read on.

The idea is this:  you want dinner and a movie, right?  Ok, they provide both--at the same time. 

The movie screen is a typical big screen, with state-of-the-art sound.  Instead of movie seats, though, the floor is tiered, and each tier features a width-of-the-theater bar-like (meaning, like you'd find at a sports bar) table, with a little shelf above it.  The little shelf conceals a very low wattage string of lights, so the table is lit just enough that you can find your food without accidentally groping the person next to you.  The seats are "executive" chairs, like your boss might have at work.

As you enter, you are given a menu and a little light-up gizmo like they give you at restaurants ("Jones, party of 4, your table is ready..."), but this is not to notify you of a table---it has a little button; you push it and put it on the little shelf; this notifies the waiter you need him/her.

The food is typical burger-bar stuff coupled with bar food.  Fried cheese, chips and queso, chips and salsa, burgers, fries, onion rings, etc.  They have a "steak" but I've never been brave enough to order it.  Food is "fair" at best (don't order the chicken nachos!) and a little more expensive than, say, Chili’s; drinks are movie-house expensive.  Of course you must also tip.

But, let's say you want to go to a movie during the week.  You get off work at 5, get home around 6, eat fast food and try to get to an 8:00 show, then get home in time for bed.  Well, with Studio Movie Grill, you can just go straight there and skip the intervening steps, see a 6:00 show, and get home at a reasonable hour.

Our SMG is located in a "new" shopping center (they tore Town and Country Mall down and built a shopping center).  It's still mostly under construction, and the movie house needed patrons.  So, they printed up a TON of free admission tickets.  We snagged some.

Now to the "There's no such thing as a free lunch" part:

The free passes expire April 30.  Yesterday was Sunday, a nice day weather-wise.  We decided to take in State of Play and use our last passes. 

When we got to the theater, we discovered that –many- of our fellow Houstonians had decided to use THEIR passes on a nice Sunday afternoon as well.  Also, we discovered that “Hanna Montana:  the Movie” was showing on two screens. 

In short, the place was a total madhouse, lines snaking every which way, lots and lots and lots of out-of-control children.  The claustrophobia situation was off the scale.

Ergo, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”.  We opted to leave and have cocktails on the back porch with neighbors instead.


Is there no common courtesy any more at all?

Dad and I went to Wal-Mart (that should be a clue, right there) Saturday to bring him from VHS up to DVD standards (wowsers, what’s next?!).  Dad was in one of those scooter carts; I was walking.  We’re moseying down the middle aisle when this teenage girl, pushing a cart, rockets out of the side aisle.  Her mother and sister were close behind.  I had to jump out of the way, and she almost hit Dad.  Neither of the girls even acknowledged our presence, but the surprise (guess not, huh) was that neither did the Mom.

As Nathan and I were going to the SMG, we walked out of the parking garage on the –extremely narrow- sidewalk.  We were exiting the sidewalk (no place for us to go except into traffic) and this lady (?) was coming in.  Instead of just waiting a few seconds till we vacated the sidewalk, she barrelled ahead, practically knocking us down.  No “Oh, I’m sorry”, no “Pardon me”, not even an “Excuse me”.  I’ve walked down many crowded sidewalks in NYC; people usually will give one of the above if they’ve physically contacted you.

Is common courtesy just dead?  What do you think?


  1. This reminded me of the time that we were waiting for a table in the bar at Cheesecake Factory. It was a Friday night, and we figured that our chances of getting seated quicker for dinner were better at the bar than to wait for a table in the restaurant.

    We were standing close to a table that was nearing the end of their meal, but we weren't hovering. While we were waiting a mother, her teenage daughter and daughter's friend entered the restaurant (after we had entered) and started talking to the folks at the table. They obviously knew them.

    Finally, the folks got up to leave, and we headed over and began to pull out the chairs.

    Mom says, "We're taking this table."

    I said, "I'm sorry but we were here before you and have been waiting longer."

    Mom says, "I know, but we're taking this table anyway."

    Now what kind of lesson do you think those two girls learned?

  2. Yikes to both Malvie's story and KBeau's. It does seem that common courtesy is dead and gone.

  3. We're going to make another attempt at the movie tonight (we've got 4 nights to go...). Maybe less Hanna Montana (God, make it stop...) b.s. tonight. Severe thunderstorms in the area, we may have power for the movie, or we may not.