violet crown

The best way to take a break from the overwhelming drone of cicadas under the oppressive summer sun has always been the darkness and cool air of a movie theater. Austin is awash with different ways to experience cinema: name brand movie houses, independent theaters with limited screens, drive-ins, or a spread out blanket while in the park. Whatever the preference, there is an option. Violet Crown, located downtown off of trendy 2nd street is Austin’s fancy option.

With two locations (the other is Santa Fe) Violet Crown is a locally owned independent theater. It has all the right elements that are popular with successful businesses: alcohol, food, smaller spacing, and independent movies. They offer a quick run on acclaimed darlings from the film festivals. No more than a week or two is spent before moving to the next indie hit. With four screens and spaced out show times, there is no Magic Mike XXL but they do have Dope.

The décor is an attempt to modernize the overseas movie house experience. Up a flight of stairs to the 2nd floor, a deep violet colored-block wall leads the way. Upon entrance is the restaurant and bar section. Unlike Alamo Drafthouse, orders are placed before the film starts and their readiness is notified by one of those restaurant buzzers. Their café offers a variety of theater familiars, along with coffee, desserts, and cute little cake balls. Ah, decadent cake balls, for those who find skittles to be too plebian and prefer to dine only on the pinkest of desserts.

As a consumer I am so used to staff asking me if I have ever been there and receiving a lecture on how to enjoy the experience. In the past I scoffed at the patronizing manner of being educated on how to consume. At the Violent Crown with no one to hold my hand, I realized that I have become so accustomed that I was frazzled at having to think and ask for myself. Be forewarned, they will not babysit you. If you are hungry, order your meal, get your drink of choice, pay your ticket, and make your way to the screen. The website recommends “arriving NO LESS THAN 45 minutes early” for an order to be prepared.

The rest of the room resembles a hotel lobby with couches and coffee table for the wait. Down a hallway, on the other side of small side bar where drinks can be replenished, are the four screens. Each screen fits a small group of people with ample room for plush cushiony seats. The best feature is the leather plumped up seating that protects the assets. I do not know about anyone else, but everything I sit on after an hour feels like concrete. It is nice to sit through a whole movie without having to shift every few minutes and in turn not looking like I have monster hemorrhoids. Shit is distracting wiggling around like a worm; I want to be comfortable and frigid in a movie theater when the weather is hitting 100 degrees. If I wanted to sit on rock, I would be out in the Greenbelt sitting stagnant in the water. They even have those little airplane pull out tables on the side of the armrests, not built in, but hinged so that you may fumble with it for three minutes confused about how to get it out of the corner and spun around in the right direction in order to put your pretzels on…Not idiot proof, but still convenient.

Speaking of convenient, Violet Crown is so posh that there is valet parking. They validate if using the garage off of San Antonio St. Posh in amenities and with a classic name. Violet Crown is one of those theaters that cultivate an experience. New on the scene, their name alludes to the long storied past of Austin. A nickname penned by the writer O. Henry, “The City of the Violet Crown” may seem archaic with Austin’s current designation as Live Music Capital of the world. In a century so much has changed and Violet Crown Theater maybe hoping to last as long as O. Henry’s words. I would support them well into my old age; my decrepit bones will appreciate the comforts they have to offer during the cruel months of July.

A.J. Whitaker

A.J. Whitaker is from San Antonio who decided to make it big in Austin. Every day she curses the traffic and all the other people who had the same idea to move. When she is not passing judgment on businesses she is submitting fiction to literary journals. Follow her success and lack of it, on her personal blog www.smashlin.com.