Cinebarre – Asheville, NC

CinebarreCinebarre, how I would love to love you. Cinebarre is Regal’s answer to the dine at the movies concept. The chain appears to show first-run films but our local Asheville branch shows second-run films.

Tickets are a very inexpensive $3. If that is too much for you, tickets are $2 on Tuesday. If that is still out of your price range then go after 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday or all day on Sunday when admission is only $1.

The first drawback to Cinebarre is that it is located in the worst mall I have ever seen. Not only could the anchor chains not survive but the mall couldn’t even support a Gamestop or a bookstore. The anchors for this mall are a discount-only Dillard’s (known locally as Dirty Dillards), a Dollar Tree, and a furniture store. Eclectic stores inside the mall include a soccer store, an indoor flea market stall, and Christian Karate. The only chain restaurant surviving is Chick-Fil-A. Anyway just ignore the mall, drive around the back, and there is Cinebarre.

Cinebarre Bar

Cinebarre has an outside screen on their wall where they occasionally show movies during the summer. There is always plenty of parking. I find that the box office is often unmanned but you can just go up to the bar and buy tickets. The interior of the building is plastered with over-sized classic movie posters and there are several seats and tables in the waiting area.

Cinebarre was planned as essentially an adults-only movie theater but their rules have evolved over the years. Here is the current iteration of the rules:

Cinebarre is an 18 and up establishment.
Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult over the age of 21.
No children under 3 years old are allowed except on Cry Baby Day.
Cinebarre caters to an adult clientele and strives to offer an entertaining and mature environment.

Under the current rules, I don’t find the audience any more or less disruptive than a normal theater. There are still people checking their cellphones and occasionally chatting as though they were in their living room.

The screens are fine, image clarity is fine, movie audio is fine – nothing special but no real defects. Tables and seats are laid out well with adequate room for patrons and waitstaff to pass through.

Cinebarre BreakfastCinebarre has a special brunch menu for Saturday and Sunday mornings including a make-it-yourself Mimosa kit. All menu items (normal and breakfast) are movie-themed. The Blade Runners (french fries), my favorite, are fresh and delicious. My daughter likes the Body Snatchers (potato skins). Food is pretty nice but boy does it get expensive fast – it is probably a good idea to have a meal before coming in or be prepared to drop about $25 per person.

Drinks are probably the most annoying thing on the menu. At a time when essentially all restaurants offer free refills as do most theaters (albeit on large size only), Cinebarre has two sizes, 20 oz. ($3.50) and 32 oz.($5), and neither one is refillable so if you need two 32 oz. Diet Cokes, be prepared to shell out $10 just for a soda.

The admission price is super, the food is good, and the movie experience nice (albeit at a price). So why don’t I love Cinebarre? Here goes – if you frequent any establishment enough times (restaurant, theater, or retail store), you will almost always encounter some problem that needs resolving. Every single time we have had a problem at Cinebarre (which is not often), that problem has been met with utter indifference by the management – the waitstaff can be uneven but are generally good.

By contrast, every time I have had a problem at the Carolina, it has been dealt with swiftly and politely by both management and staff. This difference is why we rarely go to Cinebarre but constantly go to the Carolina. I know if anything goes wrong while I am trying to enjoy myself at the Carolina, it will be taken care of. I was even present at ActionFest (Carolina) when an unruly patron was ejected from a showing. On the flipside, I know that if something goes wrong at Cinebarre, it is typically pointless to mention it.