Since 1936, the historic Gem Theatre has moved movie lovers to laughter and tears with films in an elegant, comfortable single-screen vintage theater. Peruse current showtimes and choose a first-run film, which may include a romantic romp, a superhero adventure, an independent feature, or Casablanca II: Electric Boogaloo. Guests pick up their sodas and popcorn at the concessions stand in the carpeted lobby, whose ornate table lamps cast soft light on potted plants and flowers. In the red and gold 916-seat amphitheater, upholstered floor seats beckon audience members and balcony perches provide a sky-high view behind marbled wood rails. Before the film, guests watch wrought-iron vines curl around colorful birds in sculptures flanking the screen. Sumptuous gold curtains hide the big screen until showtime, allowing staff members to finish reenacting each film’s climactic scene in private.
The amicable staff at The Wine Dive prepares a tailored menu of bistro fare that reels in hungry passersby and warms them like the reassuring glare of a grandmother’s laughing emerald eyes. The panini club ($8–$10), part of a revolving roster of paninis, tightly enfolds savory selections such as salami, ham, turkey, and provolone in a bear hug of hearty italian bread, enabling one-handed or even hands-free munching. Diners can elegantly sip on port-wine cheese dip ($6) or nibble a plate of colby and pepper-jack cheeses and zesty olives ($6). The Wine Dive supports local artists by decorating its crimson interior with their paintings and sculptures, and live musical performances each Friday inspire passionate, beat-driven chewing and sipping solos. Outdoor patio seating presents guests with a direct view of the Lake Norman Marina and a viable escape route for those pursued by bee swarms.
With more than 20 specialty martinis and cocktails to choose from, and DJ's spinning late into the evening on the weekends, Olive Martini Bar is an ideal spot for a night out. Inside the posh, contemporary interior, patrons sit at tall, padded stools that line the shining bar, sipping on drinks and sharing tapas plates. Flat-screen TVs offer entertainment in the form of sports games, while intimate conversations and chatter abound throughout the pleasingly lit space. The chic, yet relaxed, atmosphere makes Olive welcoming to groups of coworkers, romantic dates, and old friends looking to break their 30-year-old habit of hanging out in their parent's basement.
Moxies Comedy Zone hosts top-tier and up-and-coming stand-up talent and pairs it with live music, a full bar, and a food menu. While watching laugh-inducing lines pour out of the mouths of comedians such as Cee-Jay Jones, who has graced the stages of the Apollo Theater, BET's Comic View, and several fruit conventions, chucklers can share a plate of hot wings doused in mild to hot sauces ($9.99 for 12) or a jalapeño burger ($8.99). Guests may also engineer a starch tower at the build-your-own pasta bar ($9.99).
The dueling pianists at Piano Man face off, vying for applause as they blaze through the biggest hits from the last hundred years. As they hit each note with perfection, audience members holler their requests and sing along with the pros, a fact the house prides itself on. When their requests hit the stage, guests can cheers with a host of tropical drinks, including the Malibu Painkiller—a euphoric combination of Malibu coconut, black, and sunshine blended with lemonade, OJ, and sprite—or the Entourage Margarita, with Avion tequila, raspberry liqueur, pineapple juice, and fresh-squeezed lime juice. To make sure they can remember the name of their favorite song, guests can soak up the cocktails with a menu of pub food classics such as burgers and wings.