MARBLEHEAD — The Warwick, this town’s iconic movie theater, is back.
Fourteen years after closing its doors, seemingly doomed by competition from the multiplexes, the gleaming new Warwick cinema has opened in Warwick Place, along with a cafe and a new Palmers Restaurant. The complex also includes offices and retail space and was built on the site of the old Warwick, which stood there from 1919 to 1999.
The cinema features two theaters showing first-run movies. The restaurant is the second location for Palmers; the other is in Andover. For the commuter crowd, the cafe opens at 6 a.m., serving coffee and pastries.
It’s all part of what is called a dine-in theater concept. Soon, moviegoers may be able to sip a beer and eat crab cakes while watching a film.
The complex has had a soft opening, but people have already found it. Friday afternoon, families packed the theater for a showing of the locally filmed Adam Sandler comedy “Grown Ups 2.” They sat in lounge chair-style rocker seats complete with armrests that swivel over one’s lap to form a tray table.
While the movie theater is open for business, the operation is a work in progress and is opening in stages. As moviegoers bought popcorn and headed to their seats Friday, contractors were busy putting the finishing touches inside.
The three entities — the restaurant, cafe and theater — are one operation employing just under 80 people. They are all connected by a long corridor with picture windows and a view of Pleasant Street. One can wait for a movie in comfortable upholstered chairs at coffee tables.
The development of the theater and restaurant, along with other retail space and offices at Warwick Place, has the potential not only to revitalize a once dilapidated block at 123 Pleasant St., but to set the standard to boost the fortunes of small towns.