Meet The Metrograph – Downtown’s Newest Independent Theater

Growing up in New York City, filmmaker and designer Alexander Olch was enchanted by the movies, and often spent his afternoons at local theater. But the iconic cinemas he frequented—The Beacon, The Plaza, The Ziegfeld—have all since shuttered their doors. After each closing, it seemed that part of New York’s film magic was slowly but surely disappearing – until now.

“I wanted to revive the idea that going to the movies could be an elegant experience,” Olch says of his hopes for The Metrograph, the theater he just opened on Ludlow Street in Chinatown. The sprawling space houses two movie screens and a concession stand filled with exotic snacks, from the Asian import Pocky to a variety of popcorns and jerky, plus a selection of beverages that include pressed juices and artisanal sodas. It also boasts two bars (one on each floor), a bookstore filled with cinema tomes and screenplays, and a dining area aptly called the Commissary. Helmed by restaurateur Henry Rich and chef Dennis Spina, the restaurant is based on the Hollywood studio eateries of the 1920s and ‘30s, even taking inspiration from their original menus.

The theater’s cinematic selections are also far from ordinary, offering a varied program that will appeal to film buffs and more casual moviegoers alike. In addition to the latest independent films, you can view archival 35-millimeter prints of cult classics, or spend an entire weekend viewing your favorite director’s repertoire of films or a curated selection of pieces. You might even find the aforementioned directors sitting in the audience next to you.

It’s a lot to offer at one establishment, but according to Olch, that was always the goal. “We really wanted it to be a hub for the film community,” he said. “We want people to come here and see movies, but also to hang out, have breakfast or dinner, take meetings, and talk film.” In the age of grab-and- go everything, the sit-and- stay mentality is a welcome alternative. Come for the movie, stay for the experience.

Words by Alexandra Thurmond.