What’s Alamo Drafthouse Planning Next?
Finding the right location for Alamo Drafthouse involves a lot of recon. We sat down with the owner of the DFW franchise to find out what’s coming next.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema DFW COO/owner Bill DiGaetano (with his wife, Jenny) tells us there’s a strategy for scouting, but no set number for how many new openings are on the horizon. He opened his first Dallas-area franchise of the Austin-based cinema-eatery in Richardson in 2013 at an old Pep Boys along I-75 and Belt Line. It was the beginning of what is now four locations announced for the Metroplex including The Cedars (mid-’15), Las Colinas (early '16) and Little Elm (Q1 ’16).
The Little Elm location, in the newly developing Main Marketplace at the northwest corner of Main Street and FM 423, was boosted by municipal incentives, Bill tells us. Developers and cities are hungry for deals. For the right entertainment option, there’s a lot of competition between the cities in North Texas, Bill tells us. If incentives can lower the overhead or startup costs, "that can make a big difference" when choosing sites, he says. Each of the four North Texas sites were supported by local incentives in some form, he says.
Incentives, however, never overshadow the demographics or location. The customer base has to be there. For Alamo, that target audience (which they call the Alamo crowd) is typically between 26 and 56 and very loyal. But Alamo also has a strong following from the 65- to 70-year-old crowd because they like the no talking and no texting policy, he says. Typical customers drive 15 to 20 minutes to come to Alamo, he tells us: “We like to see quite a distance between theaters so we’re not cannibalizing customers.”
The right real estate is large enough to hold the 30k SF theater (which has high build-out costs for the a 3k SF kitchen). Four or five acres of parking is also required. Bill says all four DFW locations have been new construction; both Little Elm and Las Colinas are on raw dirt. Little Elm is part of an 18-acre development, which will feature 114k SF of restaurants and retail developed by Goveia Commercial Real Estate. The Las Colinas site will be part of the Music Factory shopping and entertainment complex at SH 114 and Fuller Drive. (NAI Huff’s Chance Olin brokered the Las Colinas deal. The rest were done by Bill.) Bill--who served in the US Army Special Forces--tells us Alamo's appeal includes the use of local suppliers for coffee and beer. Alamo even locally sources its ice cream (Sweet Firefly from Richardson).