Saturday, March 10, 2012

A visit to the Alamo (on Slaughter Lane)

As most people in the greater Southwest Austin area know, the Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane (at Slaughter and Mopac) opened on Thursday.  Mrs. Snowed and I were fortunate enough to attend one of the preview/training shows earlier this week, and, for the most part, we were happy with what we saw.

The inside of the theater itself was quite attractive and inviting.  The tables are quite different from any other location; instead of the long tables running across the whole row, pairs of seats get one small table.  This worked out just fine for the two of us (though I'm not sure how that would work for an odd-numbered party).  The seats were very comfortable.  The only concern with the design was that, as with many theaters, a loud enough sound from the adjoining theater could be heard in ours, though it certainly was not too terribly distracting from our movie.

The food, of course, was excellent.  Honestly, I've never had a meal at an Alamo Drafthouse that wasn't very good.  The only thing that we noticed was that there seems to be a dearth of gluten-free options (though, as we discovered, more than one menu option becomes gluten-free simply by removing the bread on the side--the menu does not make this terribly clear).  The waitstaff was helpful in guiding those of us with food allergies to good choices.  There were moments when we were reminded that this was a training screening, but overall the staff was top-notch.

The one huge concern for this location is the parking.  Parkside Village, the shopping center Alamo anchors, is managed by Stratus Properties, which has been a presence in Austin for a while, and so I'm sure they ensure that the proper amount of parking is provided for all their properties.  The City of Austin, of course, requires a fair amount of paperwork in site packages to guarantee this.  I therefore have to assume that the amount of parking is adequate to satisfy these requirements.  Alamo's website itself states confidently, "There will be ample parking day and night in the surface parking lot."  With that said, though, we saw many, many people who had been forced to park all the way at Slaughter, a distance of at least 500 feet from the front doors.  Now, we did notice that a few parking spots were blocked by construction equipment, but not enough were blocked to have housed all the people who had to park far away from the building.  Given that some of the other tenants at Parkside Village (such as, say, the AT&T Store by which many of the aforementioned people parked) have not completed their finish-outs, I believe that parking will be a major concern at this location, more than any other non-downtown location in Austin (and I say this after having dealt more than once with the not-so-great parking at the South Lamar location).

Don't let that stop you from checking the Alamo Slaughter Lane out.  Just add a few extra minutes on the front end to drive around the lot.  The movie and dining experience, once you get inside, will more than make up for it.

(Full disclosure:  I have worked for a company that did business with the Alamo Drafthouse.)