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Published: 1/29/2005

Restaurant review: Chatters Bar & Grill **

Chatters Bar & Grill distinguishes itself from other Toledo area cocktail lounges for a couple of reasons, starting with location. It s in a movie theater, the Showcase Cinemas Maumee, which now, rather fancifully, calls itself Maumee 18 Cinema de Lux.

The idea of being able to order a martini with your popcorn in the local multiplex may be difficult to comprehend, but things are changing rapidly in the old moviehouse.

Chatters, which is popping up at other National Amusements

theaters around the country, carries a full line of hard liquor, beer, wine, and specialty drinks.

The only proviso is that the alcoholic drinks can t be taken into the movie theater itself, nor drunk anywhere but in the lounge.

You can, however, carry a pizza, cheeseburger, chicken sandwich,

chili hot dog, french fries, various appetizers, and desserts into the movie auditorium and eat in the dark, if you don t mind the hazards of spillage. Or, you can dine at Chatters before or after the main attraction.

The restaurant is situated in the lobby, just off the front entrance,

offering a wraparound view of the parking lot along with sports and other shows on TV screens in the small lounge.

It may well get crowded with diners before and after evening showings, but on our three daytime visits, we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

There s a scattering of tables, and the bar is fi ve chairs long. As

for the grill, there actually isn t one: The food, served on paper

plates with plastic ware, is supplied by Nathan s Famous and

Sbarro Pizzeria, which operate lobby counters adjacent to Chatters.

The server will take your order, pick up the food, and deliver

it to the table.

How does the food rate? Well, if you want something fi lling, it s

fi ne. But compared to the food found elsewhere in these parts,

I found it wanting and expensive no surprise considering the

price of popcorn, soft drinks, and candy that fi lmgoers have to

pay at concession stands.

Take, for instance, the Nathan s Famous hot dog, a New

York City favorite. The all-beef jumbo dog with crispy French

fries costs $5.25, plus $1 more for cheese and chili bean sauce.

But in both taste and price, it doesn t hold a candle to Toledo s

justifi ably famous Greek Coney Island hot dogs.

Sbarro s pizzas are available in whole pies or by the slice, and

they re pretty good. A special of two slices with a soft drink

ranges in price from $7.50 to $9.

We happened to order ours with pepperoni, and when it came

without the meat, Matt, our server, graciously subtracted the

price from the bill.

Pre-formed cheeseburgers go for $6.75, a chicken sandwich

runs $7.25, and desserts, cost $4.75. Starbucks coffee, offered

at Sbarro and the concession counter, is $1.75 a cup. Various

caffes and cappuccinos are also served.

As for alcoholic drinks, there s a big variety to choose from: tap

and bottled beer, red and white wines, rums, vodkas, whiskeys,

and so on. At the top of the specialty drinks menu, I couldn t

help but notice the Titanic, which contains three sweet juices mixed with no fewer than fi ve rums. No wonder there s a two-drink limit.

Another Chatters is set for Westfield Shoppingtown Franklin

Park s new National Amusements multiplex, which is still under construction. A spokesman said that the West Toledo Chatters will feature a flattop grill and serve steaks among other items not available at the Maumee operation.

Contact Bill of Fare at fare@theblade.com



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