|iPic's Pod Seating option|
CMG had the opportunity to meet with iPic COO, Sherry Yard, and asked her if she considered iPic - a cinema or a restaurant? The quick response from Yard was, "I'm not in the theater business. I'm in the restaurant business. I'm in the hospitality business." Yard calls what iPic does "eatertainment", meaning the focus is on eating first and then on entertaining, which is very different than say, Alamo Theaters.
In fact, Yard is also the head chef at iPic! She is a three time James Beard Award winner and worked for 19 years with Wolfgang Puck. She said that the food developed for and served at the iPic is not typical movie food, but that it has a chef-driven menu based off the things she and her foody-friends like to eat and cook.
I visited the iPic in Scottsdale, AZ last week and as I entered the 'establishment' I was not in (the expected) cinema lobby but in a restaurant called Tanzy. Tanzy is an Italian restaurant and bar and serves different food and beverages vs. the cinema. People were dining, drinking, and hanging out. Some going to see a movie, some coming from seeing a movie, and some were not there to see a movie.
The restaurant plays a major role in iPic's business plan. Last year, 52% of its revenue came from food and beverage, the remainder from the cinema - box office and concession. Yard said she believes because most of the staff come from the restaurant or hotel industries they are more customer oriented and that makes a big difference in how patrons view their experience at iPic.
Certainly, the restaurant and cinema businesses are separate, each requiring special management skills but iPic seems to be doing both and doing both very well.