On the rare occasion that its 25 television screens are not broadcasting live sports, Broadlands Sports Bar & Grill allows guests to hold their own competitions in an Xbox-equipped lounge. At the center of the dining area, a long wraparound bar sits like a tropical island in an ocean of beer. The bar staff pours 16 on-tap brews to complement the menu of steaks, wings, sliders, wraps, and desserts. Live DJs frequent the bar each weekend, bringing karaoke singers to the stage on Fridays and letting tiny singers out of their road cases to sing during dance parties on Saturdays.
Since its origins as a converted parking garage, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has ushered film-lovers of all breeds into its auditoriums, even gaining a following among Hollywood legends; Quentin Tarantino has been known to host five-day movie marathons at Alamo. The theater has earned that reputation by making moviegoing a personal experience, from the menu of handcrafted snacks and locally brewed beer to the completely ad-free presentations before shows. A long table stretches in front of every row of seats, enabling servers to unobtrusively pick up written food and drink orders throughout each screening. The staff enforces a strict no-talking, no-texting policy by kicking out any offenders, falling just short of yanking them from their seats with a giant's shepherd's crook.
Both first-run blockbusters and classics are projected onto Alamo's silver screens in crisp 35-millimeter or digital format. Meanwhile, surround speakers immerse audiences in the cinematic soundscape, whether they're seated in one of the expansive theaters afforded to blockbuster reels or the more intimate spaces reserved for indie films wound around tiny bobbins. Despite Alamo's vow of silence, fan-centric Quote-Along and Sing-Along nights encourage guests to shout their favorite lines, and actors, directors, and other celebrities often attend special screenings to lead in-depth discussions. These exclusive events have led to acclaim for Alamo from publications such as Entertainment Weekly, which called it ?one of America's most fanatically unique moviegoing experiences,? and Wired, which opined that it "might just be the coolest movie theater in the world."
The owners of First Break Sports Bar & Grill turned a tragic fire into an opportunity. After the loss, they took time to update the space beyond its original condition, and today gleaming granite tops the bar and hardwood floors shine throughout. A typical night sees the latest sports events flickering on 25 HDTVs, while smokers retire to a separate lounge where they can throw darts through the smoke rings they blow. Players send billiard balls cracking at 9-foot Diamond Pro-Am tables, and on Wednesday nights, participants count their chips during Texas Hold 'Em tournaments. But whether they're spectating or playing, diners can fuel up with selections from the bar's menu with sandwiches, wraps, and pasta until 2 a.m.
Traditional pubs served as community hubs, places to see neighborhood folks and combine the flow of information with the flow of taps. Finnegan's Irish Pub aims to recreate that same setting for a modern audience, serving friendly sandwiches, burgers, and Irish entrees with plenty of beer.
Rather than depending on word of mouth for their stream of news, the pub's staff instead bedecks the dining room with flat-screen televisions and projectors. Outside, a television screens bathe the patio in its technicolor light. And some of the indoor booths come with their very own TVs, ideal for quietly feeding your curling addiction while pretending to care about football.
To get a sense of The Greene Turtle's commitment to the neighborhood, one need only sit at the bar and look up. Dozens of mugs hang above the counter, emblazoned with the pub's logo and a unique number—each one belongs to a recurring patron. The Mug Club awards its members with draft-beer discounts and other specials, but more importantly, it allows loyal patrons to feel as though they own small slices of the venue without tattooing their names on the bartender's arm. This sense of shared familiarity is what fuels the entire franchise, which refrains from calling its locations "restaurants" in favor of friendlier terms: gathering places, communities, havens.
Many of the locations contribute more than mugs to their districts. Staff members who participate in the annual Tips for Tots program donate the entirety of one day's tips to a nearby Toys for Tots initiative, and Tuesday Funds for Friends events benefit local organizations. These efforts have been chronicled by press sources such as Food and Drink magazine, with features that liken The Greene Turtles' philanthropic generosity to the generous portions of comfort food that leave the kitchens.
From cheeseburger sliders and flatbread pizzas to handmade lump-crab cakes, the offerings on the menu embrace barroom traditions along with ingenuity. The steak and chicken entrees arrive with classic sides of green beans and yukon gold mashed potatoes, whereas the eastern shore mac ‘n’ cheese updates a comfort staple with chopped bacon, lump crab, scallions, and Old Bay seasoning. Diners can enjoy their meals by the glow of private flat-screen TVs—there's one in every booth—or beneath one of many larger televisions broadcasting sports games throughout the venue.