Old Town's largest seating capacity "restaurant" is open and serving patrons. It feeds both their gastronomical appetites and their intellectual ones simultaneously.
Having just been approved to offer a full menu, complimented by a wide selection of beer and wine, it's called The Old Town Theater. At the top of that menu is what owner Roger Fonz promised at the outset of his revitalization the Alexandria landmark — OTT Dogs. That stands for Old Town Theater Dogs.
"We also don't charge our customers any tax on their food or beverage selections," Fonz said. "We pay all the taxes directly to the city based on our sales. They are in full agreement with that procedure."
OTT Dogs are offered in three categories: Deli style for $2 and Hot Sausage or Kielbasa for $3. Toppings of "Kraut, Cheese or Chili" are $.25 extra.
Just behind the front entrance lobby is his newly installed kitchen area with its stainless steel "Roast N Hold" oven. "We can serve 400 dinners at a seating with this oven. It's all based on timing. The entrees are not fully cooked until they are ready to be served," Fonz explained.
At each theater seat is an arm rest holder for a tray that is specially designed to hold food and beverage selections. Smaller trays are for lunch service while dinner trays can hold the main course, plus side dishes and beverage.
Fonz's newest addition to the theater's staff is his head chef Alex Mejia. He previously served as the souz chef at both the Old Town Holiday Inn Select and Santa Fe Restaurant.
"I'm very excited about this. It's very different," Mejia said. A native of Honduras, he has lived in this area for the past 14 years.
THE LARGE OVEN, which stands more than six feet in height, has no emission and does not cause dripping from meat selections, according to Fonz. "It is all based on recirculated air in the nature of a convection oven," he said.
There are six Paninis sandwich selections ranging in price from $6 to $7. Each is served with cole slaw and chips. Dinner selections offer a full meal of either ham or turkey at $10 or tenderloin beef at $13. All entrees are accompanied by either roasted or stuffed potatoes, plus a vegetable.
Those preferring a salad, either by itself or with lunch or dinner, can choose from Caesar or House at $5. To make it a meal in itself just add beef, turkey or ham for an additional $2.
For pasta lovers there are several design-your-own serving bowls with a price tag of $7. Adding scallops and shrimp brings the tab to $10.
In the beverage department, Fonz offers four selections of beer at $4 each, plus a red and white wine list that includes Bordeaux, Cotes de Bourg, Riesling, and California. The red and white Bordeauxs go for $6 per glass, while the others are priced at $5 per glass.
On the mezzanine level is a bar and buffet serving area with two large flat screen televisions for patron entertainment prior to shows and at intermission. For comfort there are high cocktail tables and seating.
Nonalcoholic beverage selections include soda, lemonade, coffee and water at $2 per glass. And of course, there are the traditional movie theater staples of popcorn and candies at $2 and $1, respectively.
ALL OF THIS IS offered with a wide selection of entertainment. "In addition to our movie and video selections we plan to have three or four live production plays per year through Kurith Theater Productions," Fonz said.
This weekend, Old Town Theater will serve as the venue for the Radio King Orchestra's presentation, "Of Thee I Swing." As part of "Alexandria Salutes - A USO Weekend," the theater will be filled with big band music from the World War II era plus stage dancing and vocalists.
Old Town Theater's history serves as a bridge between the two world wars of the 20th century. First opening in 1914, at the commencement of World War I with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, it was a mainstay during the turbulent years of 1941-45 and into Cold War era that followed.
Offered on both Friday and Saturday, July 16 and 17, beginning at 8 p.m., tickets for "Of Thee I Swing" are now on sale at $22 per person. "We also hope to be able to have the first three rows of center seats removed and a dance floor installed so the audience can dance as well," Fonz said.
LINING THE WALLS of the mezzanine lounge is a an exhibit of paintings by Harold A. Laynor, a member of the 603rd Camouflage Engineers Battalion, also known as the "Ghost Army" of World War II. They will be on exhibit through September 6.
Last Friday, one of the first groups to take advantage of the new mix of screen entertainment and lunch arrived at the theater, located at 815 and a half King St., for a condensed showing of the Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg production, "Band of Brothers." As the lunch crowd began to arrive, Mejia and his staff were set up and ready to serve.