Retail Spotlight – Syndicated

657fa7862b12c5f91c449a4d83f058c5Their Success… Scrolling through the website for Syndicated, Brooklyn’s latest movie theater/restaurant mash-up, you might notice some curious contrasts. For example, there are the menus – half loaded tater tots/burgers/popcorn, half chatham mussels/smoked lamb ribs/fiddlehead ferns? Or click on their Instagram account, a mix of mouthwatering food photography and film stills that range from the artistic to the (literally) cartoonish. But move on to the calendar of movies and events for the clearest indication that Syndicated has embraced contrast to the fullest.

Syndicated’s monthly calendar is a grab bag of movies both classic and new. Each night features one or two films with up to 4 showtimes; some films run for a few nights, others are screened as one-offs or for special events. During the first week in May, each night is devoted to a single sci-fi flick, be it Mars Attacks or The Fifth Element. In mid April, the Coen Brothers had a week, as did Hitchcock later in the month. Sometimes an obvious theme ties together an entire week, other times guests may not even notice a connection, like the road-trip-week bookended by Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Dumb and Dumber.

Most of the movies listed on the calendar are screened in Syndicated’s single screening room, which comes equipped with a table for every two seats and a low-tech but easy ordering system. Theater-specific menus (think nachos, flavored popcorn and ice-cream sandwiches) are hung on clipboards at the tables, and guests can circle their orders. A server collects them and quietly brings the food around during the film, dropping the check shortly before it ends. Movie theaters have been making the majority of their money on concessions for decades, so it only makes sense to elevate that concession list and integrate the food and film experiences completely.

Outside the theater is the main bar/restaurant, a huge room with lofty ceilings and an art-deco aesthetic. There is a central bar with (almost) 360 degree seating, and generously-spaced tables along the edges of the room. Two large projectors on the far wall allow Syndicated to run additional programming (with closed captioning, of course) for guests who might not want to commit to a full movie, but still want the experience of dinner, drinks and a show. Sports bars may have been the first to figure out that guests will stay longer (and order more) if they can watch something while they do, but Syndicated is doing the same with the Oscars, presidential debates, and favorite TV show finales.

The thesis of this project is perhaps best summed up by their occasional “Hi / Low” movie pairings: two movies chosen because they express some underlying theme from very different rungs of the cultural ladder. (In May, for example, that means the dark and intense Shame alongside American Pie) “Hi/Low” is the best expression of what Syndicated aims to be – a  place you can eat great food that’s also junk food, catch up on classic film history or binge watch current tv, and have an extravagant date night that’s still just a casual dinner and a movie. Because sometimes a good night out looks like foreign films and a Spanish red, sometimes it looks like Bill & Ted’s Excellent adventure and a Narraganset, and sometimes it looks like all the above.

Take aways… Syndicated comfortably embraces contrast between the highbrow and the low, filling multiple needs in a playful way that keeps guests surprised and engaged.

 

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