Dipson Theatres celebrates a reputation as a regional movie institution with a network of 12 locations lighting 57 silver screens across Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania. Though the company now spreads across the northeast United States, it began in the small city of Batavia, NY, in 1939—a time when movies were called “picture shows,” Roosevelt was in the White House, and everybody could only see in black and white. Today that tradition underlies the cinematic experience as patrons chomp popcorn and sip sodas, marveling at modern 3-D visual adventures, summer action movies, family-friendly features, or even indie art flicks and footage from world-renowned opera performances.
The Chautauqua Belle brings the Industrial Revolution's innovation and muscle back to life with cruises held aboard the historic open-air steamboat. The eponymous vessel glides across the calm surface of Chautauqua Lake as guides educate guests of all ages on the lake's colorful history. Guests can enjoy snacks and libations from the full-service bar as they glimpse picturesque beaches and lush forests during dinner, fireworks, and private charters or narrated history tours.
TJ's Dinner Theatre serves up classic American food and entertainment in a casual setting. Cooks prepare burgers, pizzas, and giant soft pretzels while patrons relax and watch movies. Though the theater opened in its current location in February 2013, its centerpiece is much older: "Shirley," the projector that casts movies onto the big screen, has been in use since 1949, reports metroWNY.
Chefs at Toro Tapas Bar infuse their genre-defying tapas with creative fusion cuisine such as bison quesadillas and saffron lobster. Waiters transport small- to medium-size plates to glossy red tables, where diners share bites family style, as mixologists behind a dramatically backlit bar fill goblets with more than 100 wines. High ceilings with exposed girders soar above the space, and terra cotta walls bear abstract paintings that, if stared at long enough, reveal a 3D image of which diner will pick up the bill.
It's fitting that Alleyway Theatre makes its home in a renovated bus depot—the venue is a destination for local talent. The company focuses on Buffalo artists, frequently staging world premieres and fostering the work of homegrown playwrights. Freshly penned plays and acclaimed shorts entertain audiences in the historic venue, which sports the curved walls, stainless steel trimmings, and distinctive mustache of the Art Moderne architectural style.
Servers at Alternative Brews deliver frosty confections from a selection of 150 different beers, mixed drinks, and cold sodas to thirsty patrons. Though the beer menu rotates, previous selections have included the hop-laden potency of Flying Dog Old Scratch amber ($4.25), and the dark and velvety Young's Double Chocolate stout ($5). Offerings from Ayinger brewery, including Brau Weiss ($5), shuttle refreshing infusions of golden wheat from Germany to waiting glasses. Take a well or call drink of your choice ($4–$4.75) to the outdoor patio to cool off on balmy summer evenings, or show off air-harmonica skills against a backdrop of weekly live blues music. Monthly free beer tastings regale patrons with samples of new drafts from Alternative Brew's ever-changing selection.