by Jacque Lynn Schiller
During my recent Thirsty Bits visit to Barberry, I couldn’t help but notice the Lichtenstein inspired lights of a nearby building façade. What craziness was going on in there? Upon further investigation, i.e. walking a couple of doors down and looking at the sign, I was thrilled to learn the LED display marked the address of Nitehawk, the food and film place I’d been hearing about (and rooting for) for quite some time.
Owner Matthew Viragh was game to give me a tour of the property and a peek at Saul Bolton’s menu. You read that correctly. Move over milk duds, there are tamales on this movie menu, at least until next week…
NONA: Who does the programming?
Matthew: It’s split between two cinema directors, Mason Rader and John Woods. John is the former owner of Reel Life video and that’s his VHS collection. There’s more where that came from so we’ll rotate.
The theaters are quite Goldilocks: small, medium and large.
There are three auditoriums playing first runs and the lobby space that serves as a fourth, playing obscure stuff.
Was it always the plan to serve food with the films?
That was the idea. I worked at and learned from one of the first dinner theaters. It’s a 1945 art deco cinema in a charming part of Virginia – Portsmouth.
The design in here is great. What was here before and who was the architect?
And you never see the servers until they’re needed in the theater – it’s like a labyrinth back there.
Was Saul brought in at the beginning or were you just really lucky?
I was really lucky to know someone who knew him and he fits perfectly with the team. He’s a brilliant, down to earth chef. That’s rare.
Is the menu the same in both the café and theater?
Yes — and the films lead our whole process. Once we have the movie, we come up with the food and drink specials. We’ve themed for every movie so far.
What drew you to the project, Saul?
Saul Bolton: Who doesn’t love dinner and a movie? The Nitehawk is a unique, somewhat irreverent concept that drew me in immediately. Add the band of gypsies that make up the diverse staff of the Nitehawk (from programmers, projectionists, etc.) and I went hook, line, and sinker. Gimme a corndog and a rootbeer float!
135 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg