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Downtown Budget Cinema re-opens after extreme makeover: theater edition

Posted April 8th, 2015

  • Seating in the new budget theater allows for food to be brought right to the movie-watchers' seats.

People probably will not recognize the little budget theater on South Barstow Street the next time they visit.

With the lack of movies made on film today, the Downtown Budget Cinema could not hold off making the switch to digital movies any longer. That was the main push for the recent additions and re-opening, according to Connie Olson, one of the owners of the theater. When Olson decided it was time to go digital, she wondered what else could be added to the theater, bringing a “go big or go home” concept to the renovation.

“We didn’t want to put in digital without making the rest of the facility nicer,” Olson said.

The theater underwent a complete transition to become a place where people can go to for dinner and a movie. And even some drinks. Beer and wine will be served at the theater, which has raised some concerns, however Olson said serving alcoholic beverages is only to offer more options for theater-goers.

“We’re not rebranding just for adults, we still want to be able to bring in family movies. It’s still going to be for everyone,” Olson said. “We’re still a budget theater, but we want to be able to offer more to the public,” she added.

That means people also have more to snack on than the traditional theater staples of popcorn and nachos, such as pizza and sandwiches, since a kitchen has been built into the theater.  There will also be other finger foods like cheese curds, chicken strips, french fries, and mini corn dogs available. 

Along with the menu changes, are a new paint job, carpets, seats and even a self-serve soda machine.  A brand new handicap restroom has been added upstairs, while the downtown restrooms have been remodeled.  There are fewer seats in the theaters as the table space has been added in front of the seats.  

“The whole process and transformation is amazing. I hope our customers are happy along with our South Barstow Street friends,” Tom Klemmer of the Downtown Budget Cinema.

Downtown Eau Claire can also look forward to the theater hosting film festivals. People have already contacted Olson to show local films they produced and want to show them here in Eau Claire. The theater is already signed up to take part in Jazz Fest and set to host a couple bands, with room for other musicians to sign up still.  Olson says they can also host a variety of parties.

Kids can look forward to Saturday morning cartoon showings, with breakfast offered as an option. Olson said that is something they are working now to hopefully introduce this summer.

With all the new changes, Olson said some things will remain the same. The theater will still show all types of movies, from family friendly to R-rated. No one will have to worry about the beloved authentic butter and low-prices disappearing, either. Olson said those will not be going anywhere.