BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The State Liquor Authority approved a measure on Wednesday that will allow movie theater owners to apply for a wine and beer license, without having to offer a restaurant menu or full-service seating, as previously required.

“It’s a step in the right direction. Remember, during covid, they were the last to be open. So, they suffered a great loss,” said Tim Clark commissioner of the Buffalo Niagara Film Commission. “I think the Hollywood movie studios also recognize this is a good thing, because it will help bring people in and boost revenue for local theater owners.”

“It’s a necessary step towards fairness,” said Ray Barker program director at North Park Theatre. “At one point in time, performing arts venues like Shea’s were allowed to have champagne and wine, but cinemas couldn’t. And, that just didn’t seem right. So, I think the legislation puts everyone on an even playing field.”

Dipson Theatre in Amherst has been offering beer and wine with a menu and table service for the last few years. Dipson plans to have wine and beer at all of their locations.

“This is something we’re very happy for,” said Bryan Spokane vice president of Dipson Theatres. “This is something we’ve been pushing for a while. Thirty-seven other states already have this and we’re really happy that New York State approved this.”

At the North Park Theatre, they’re on the fence about serving wine and beer, but they’re keeping an open mind.

“Our theater sits in the middle of a wonderful neighborhood on Hertel. There are a lot of bars and restaurants. People can drink either before or after movies. It seems to be an organic part of the neighborhood,” said Barker. “As far as offering it in theater, we’re going to have to look at the cost of permitting, and what kind of space offering these kinds of beverage are going to take.”

Angelica Morrison is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.