[caption id="attachment_558882" align="alignright" width="300"] Michael Barstow[/caption]
Omaha, Nebraska-based ACX Cinemas recently announced plans to move into the former iPic Entertainment movie theater, bowling alley and restaurant space at Bayshore shopping center in Glendale. Michael Barstow is the executive vice president of ACX, which operates four cinemas in Nebraska and Iowa. Barstow’s mother and father started ACX Cinemas in 1988. The family grew up in Detroit, and their company has since expanded its presence in the hospitality industry. The Bayshore location will be ACX’s first venture into the Wisconsin market. In a recent interview with BizTimes reporter Ashley Smart, Barstow shared his vision for the space.
What attracted you to the Bayshore location?
“It was a bizarre thing. COVID-19 had just shut down basically the whole world in March of 2020, and I was in Chicago. I’ve got a couple of brokers at Mid-America (Real Estate), who are the brokers for the entire complex at Bayshore. I had nothing going on, so they were like, ‘Hey do you want to go check out some place in Milwaukee?’ I was looking at restaurant spaces in Milwaukee, and one of the guys – he didn’t know we had a background in movie theaters – said, ‘Hey, would you want to go check out this movie theater?’
What does ACX plan to do differently here?
“I think it’s a different time. Obviously, I think coming out of COVID is a very different time. The world is a little bit different, and I think that changed the model of what a movie-going experience is. I would say our biggest separator goes back to our food and beverage. What we’re going to do in that restaurant, that’s going to drive everything. I think when people think of movie theaters, they immediately think the food can’t be good. I would argue the opposite.”
What are some of your food staples?
“Kind of our calling card is this Detroit-style pizza. We take the pizza, which is the core, and we surround it with a really cool, extensive small plate menu. A lot of the shareable plates cater really well to that sort of environment. Beyond that, I think our burgers are as good as any burger you can have. We have some wraps, chicken sandwiches and things of that nature. We also have a nice salad collection and pasta as well.”
What work are you doing inside the auditoriums?
“The bulk of it is the same, but there is a fairly extensive multi-million-dollar renovation that’s happening in that building. Every auditorium is getting completely redone. We’re taking out all the old seats and putting in luxury heated recliners. Within the restaurant space, that’s going to be a fairly significant face lift on the bar and dining portion of it. When you walk into that space, it’s going to feel very different. We want it to feel big and open and get as much light in there as possible. We want to create this elevated experience where you just want to hang out there.”
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