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Historic Strand Theatre Serves 21st Century Fare
If you think that “movie munchies” are limited to popcorn, soda, and boxes of chewy candy, you’re missing out on a great experience.
How about enjoying a burger, chicken tenders or a hand-tossed personal pizza while the action unfolds on the big screen? And along with your meal, a glass of wine, or maybe a cold beer?
Welcome to the historic Strand Theatre in Clinton, the area’s only cinema pub.The Strand began life in the 1920s and operated as a vaudeville theater and movie house until the 1970s. After sitting silent for about a decade, the historic building in the midst of Clinton’s High Street business district was renovated and re-opened to a new audience, with a new concept. Wider aisles, chair-side tables to accommodate light meals, and recent movies shown on one of the biggest screens in Worcester County offered a new experience.
Rob Nierintz was an early visitor to the “new” Strand — and quickly found himself returning, week after week after week. In fact, Sundays at The Strand became a routine for Nierintz and a group of friends. “We even sat in the same seats every week,” he says.
And then, in 2012, the routine was altered. Faced with a career change when the company he worked for moved — creating a lengthy commute — Nierintz switched gears and became owner of The Strand. “I had once told the previous owner, if you ever want to sell, let’s talk.” They talked. And on a June day in 2012, he turned in his company laptop at 10 am, and at 5 pm prepared to open the doors of The Strand for the evening’s screening.
“People Love It”
Like Nierintz — and his friends and family — residents from a wide area love coming to The Strand, enjoying a light dinner or snacks (cooked to order right on site), a beverage, and a $5.50 second-run movie. “It’s a fun evening,” he says. And enjoying an adult beverage, he adds, “makes even a bad movie not so bad.”
That’s not to say that the movies shown at The Strand aren’t first-rate and popular. In fact, there were solid crowds every night for July screenings of Jersey Boys. Other movies screened this summer included Million-Dollar Arm and Divergent. With only one screen, Nierintz is thoughtful about his movie selections, trying to choose films that his audience will enjoy. “We can also show some smaller films that we think people will like,” including some that have a local filming connection. Each movie in the venerable building — which sports a crystal chandelier in the lobby and graceful alcoves that once housed pipes for the organ that accompanied silent films — runs for a week, from Friday through Thursday. The theatre’s menu is available on the website, so you can plan your evening. The doors open 45 minutes before movie time; tickets are only available at the door.
There are special events, too, like Comedy Nights with stand-up comics from the Boston area, and a holiday season showing of Polar Express, complete with cookies and souvenirs for the kids.
Forget the popcorn and gummies. Grab a burger and onion rings, relax, and enjoy the show!