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Another fast paced day at MES may leave you a bit tired. This may be the day you head up to the room early or take a leisurely evening stroll to unwind. You may meet colleagues for an early dinner. Either way, on Mondays Austin slows down to reboot. This may be the opportunity to take a walk to another distinctly Austin landmark, The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz.
The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz is a few blocks West on Sixth Street. Originally, the Drafthouse was founded in 1997, as a second run movie theater, in a parking garage in the warehouse-district. Food and drink were served – including beer – to cabaret tables with service aisles in between. In short order it became a thriving hotspot in downtown Austin.
The things that made it most unique, though, were films scored with accompaniment by local bands who performed live; food service matching the meals being served in movies with culinary themes; and marathons of obscure film series such as the “Walking Tall” trilogy, hosted by Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino liked Austin so much that he did some variation of that for years at the original Alamo Drafthouse. There were other movie theaters around the country that served food, but none acquired such an unequaled reputation for individuality as the Alamo Drafthouse.
In 2004, the original owners, sold the brand allowing the use of the “Alamo Drafthouse” trademark, but they kept controlling interests in the name in Austin. The downtown location focused on guest appearances, audience participation, documentaries, classics, cult classics and independents.
In 2007 the Alamo Drafthouse was moved to the renovated Ritz on Sixth. Built in 1929, it was designed specifically for “talkies.” At its opening it was a segregated theater that sold low-cost tickets to Westerns. Television hurt business so much that it was shuttered in 1964. The Ritz reopened for three years as an “adult” theater in 1970, then as a music venue for decades until the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz reopened as a movie theater in ’07 with a typically Austin triple feature of No Country for Old Men, War of the Gargantuas, and Matango.