Atmosphere

Flix on the Fax

Returning locals bring the old-fashioned film experience back to Denver.

February 2008

Siblings (and self-proclaimed movie buffs) Jimmie Lee Smith and Melodie Gaul grew up in Park Hill, frequenting Denver's independent theaters along Colfax. But ever since the '80s, when people started flocking to megaplexes, the pair has dreamed about bringing film back to the Fax. "We had the idea, but we couldn't come up with the reason why people would come to our place," says Smith.

Inspiration came two decades later. Smith, on a date with his now wife, Michelle, in New York City, was told they couldn't bring food into the movie theater. As they wolfed down their meals, Smith realized he could sell the idea of bringing together great food and great films. He, Michelle, and sister Melodie immediately began looking for locations in Denver.

When they heard about the Lowenstein Theater renovation project on Colfax, they were drawing up ownership papers within hours. This November, they opened Neighborhood Flix Cinema and Café—an indie theater, restaurant, and bar—joining the Tattered Cover and Twist & Shout in Denver's books, music, and film trifecta.

Flix is an "art house" theater that offers films not typically shown in the big theaters, with the added benefit of good food: sesame ginger sweet-potato fries or rosemary grilled chicken with guacamole and pesto. So much for buttered popcorn and Junior Mints.

This month the theater rolls out the red carpet, literally, for its first "Hollywood on the Fax" Oscars party (Feb. 24). For $30, theatergoers can watch the show while enjoying themed drinks and sampling the cafe's munchies. www.neighborhoodflix.com.