Jon Goldstein likes to call the Maple Theatre "a coffee shop with a movie theatre attached."
That's because when Goldstein bought the Maple Theatre from the Landmark Theatre Group and closed it for remodeling in July. Part of the $1.5 million renovation included opening a Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company
café on the front of the building, the Bloomfield Hills-based coffee roaster that specializes in USDA-certified organic, micro-lot single-origin coffees.
The café is part of Goldstein's approach to make the Maple more than just a movie house. "The key is not to just have a movie theater but a community gathering place,"he says.
Goldstein, who isn't new to the theater-owning game, always saw the Maple as a wasted opportunity. "I live close to the theater … it was always a pet peeve of mine. I would drive by it every day and think, ‘What a waste.' It's in a great location; it just needed some updating and some renovating.”
When Goldstein had the chance to purchase the theater from Landmark, he partnered with several local investors under the name Cloud Nine Theatre Partners
then took on the task of much-needed renovations. When the theatre reopened in November, it didn't just get a facelift - it found the fountain of youth.
The dated interior of the lobby was given new life by celebrated Birmingham-based architecture and design firm Ron & Roman. "I went to a bunch of restaurants around town that I thought had a great atmosphere,"Goldstein says. "Every time I went into one of these restaurants and asked who designed it, it was always the same person."That person being Ron Rea
, the rock star of restaurant design in metro Detroit].
The plan was to have the coffee house in the front of the building with its own entrance and its own parking lot directly facing the traffic on Maple Rd.
Goldstein also wanted to include a bar in the theater, as well as seating areas. "Ron and Roman ingeniously figured out a floor plan to meet all of our needs and accomplish our goals."
The result is a wholly independent café open early in the morning until late in the evening seven days a week, a totally autonomous business that is its own source of revenue and brings people into the building even when there isn't a movie showing. It being only a three-screen theater with limited opportunity for revenue, "the coffee shop is really a key piece in order to sustain ourselves.”
The bar will also help with that. While visitors can only order a drink if they have a movie ticket stub, Goldstein hopes to open fully as a bar after the initial probationary period is over. And for craft beer lovers in the barren beer wasteland that is Bloomfield Hills, this can't happen fast enough. The draft selection includes stand-outs like Founder's Breakfast Stout, Goose Island's Matilda, Jolly Pumpkin's Oro de Calabaza, and Short's Soft Parade. About 30 selections by the bottle include some favorites from Great Lakes Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewery and Dogfish Head. There is also a respectable selection of wines by the glass and a small menu of small plates (they're still working on the food).
Oh, and a lounge area has a fireplace. Just because.
Other renovations included larger, plusher seats, wider aisles and 3D projection capability. Sound a little like a classed-up Emagine Theatre? Well, it should: Goldstein is an investor in the Michigan-based luxury theater chain. Everything Goldstein knows about running a movie theater he learned from Emagine founder Paul Glantz
"When you invest and make it a really nice experience for people you get that money back,"Goldstein echoes from Glantz's teachings.
While the Maple was once known casually as "art house for old people,"Goldstein's programming seeks to expand its audience. The Maple will show a mix of indie and mainstream with the occasional exclusive release. Films like Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Qwerty (a Maple exclusive) all recently screened here.
Goldstein says simply, "We're a theater that shows great movies. [Those will] be whatever we determine is worthy of the screen.”
Everything about the new Maple is about serving the best possible product, from Great Lakes coffee to craft beer to the films they carefully select. As a community-minded concept, they also sell annual memberships that offer perks like free movie tickets and special seating. Goldstein knows how tough the competition is and the glut of options available to people both in their morning coffee and their evening entertainment, but he is confident that the Maple offers a unique, exceptional experience.
"We have to be curators of content,"he says. "The experience at home is so much different than [coming here], sitting down, having a drink, turning off your phone and escaping into the theater for two hours.”
While you can certainly duck in, buy a ticket, find a seat, watch a movie and leave as soon as the credits roll, the Maple invites you to stay a little longer, to linger over a beer with a friend or with a cup of coffee by the fire. This is less megaplex burn and turn and more community brew and view.
Nicole Rupersburg is a freelance writer, regular contributor to Metromode and popular Metro Detroit food blogger. Read her blog at Eat It Detroit.