CARROLLWOOD — In the 1980s and '90s, the Carrollwood and Northdale areas were home to three multiscreen cinemas on Dale Mabry Highway. In the '90s, a fourth multiplex with more than 20 screens sprang up on Van Dyke Road, one block west of Dale Mabry Highway.
But by the start of the last decade, those theaters began shutting their doors.
Now, Howard Edelman, a former executive with Regal and UA Cinemas who owns Channelside Cinemas, wants to bring the movies back to Carrollwood.
In January, he closed on the property at 11778 N Dale Mabry Highway, which was once home to Main Street Cinemas. Edelman plans to combine upscale dining and drinking with a comfortable moviegoing experience with his Cinema Paradiso Bistro.
Edelman said the concept is catching on big across the country.
"I just went to New York City to visit the multiscreen theaters up there," Edelman said. "When you go into the lobby, no popcorn, no soda displays. Just lounge chairs, a bar and beautiful art decor.
"When you walk into the movie theater, you can press a button to buzz the waitress. You can order hamburgers, salads, appetizers, drinks. And they still have popcorn and candy, but it's not displayed."
Customers can avail themselves of those amenities from the comfort of a reclining leather chair, he added.
To make the moviegoing experience more comfortable, Edelman said, his theaters will include more space between the chairs, making it easier for the servers and customers to get up and move around.
"The original theater there had six screens and 1,200 seats," Edelman said. "We're still going to have six screens, but we'll only have 500 seats."
There will also be several VIP rooms and a room for private parties of between four and 20 people.
Edelman said he plans a May opening. But he concedes that there could be delays because the 3-D digital projectors come from a factory in Japan that has temporarily halted production due to the recent earthquake and tsunami.
For more information about the Cinema Paradiso Bistro, visit cinemaparadisobistro.com.
Checkers on Fletcher Avenue closes
CARROLLWOOD — Residents will have to go a little farther to get a Checkerburger.
The Checkers drive-through at 3846 W Fletcher Ave. closed at the end of February, said Checkers spokeswoman Kim Francis.
Francis said the store, which was a franchise and not owned by the Tampa-based burger chain, struggled in that location.
The franchisee "closed the restaurant location because it had low visibility, difficult traffic when getting in and out and other factors that made it a challenge," Francis said.
All of the Fletcher Avenue restaurant's employees were offered jobs at other Checkers locations, she said.
Meanwhile, customers seeking a Big Buford or some Chili Cheese Fries can get their fix at the Checkers at 3418 Hoedt Road, near N Dale Mabry Highway and Northdale Boulevard.
Sean Ledig can be reached at [email protected]