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St. Louis Movies: Food, bowling and movies at The Moolah

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Since its opening in 2005, the Moolah Theater and Lounge has been enchanting St. Louis moviegoers with its blend of Old World charm and unique, modern amenities. As one of the last single-screen movie theaters in the country, the Moolah offers a rare alternative to the impersonal multiplex.

Located in Midtown next to the Saint Louis University campus at 3821 Lindell Blvd., the Moolah is known especially for its quirky architecture and design. The Moolah Temple’s walls are decked in vibrant pink, green and gold. Intricate motif and architectural flourishes mark its Moorish influences. A breathtaking high-vaulted ceiling graces the main theater. According to the website for St. Louis Cinemas, the chain of movie theaters that includes the Moolah, the building has undergone a $17.2 million restoration in order to achieve its historic charm.

First erected by the Shrine Masons in 1913, the Moolah Temple building was vacated during the mid-1980s and fell into deep disrepair.Fortunately, in 2002 a redevelopment company built the theater within the temple and restored the building to its original glory. Nowadays, the Moolah draws a varied crowd of single adults, families and students from all over the city.

This may be because of all that the Moolah has to offer. The theater’s 390 seats consist of plush, leather couches and balcony seating. Feature films are shown on a massive 20-by-45-feet screen in the main theater. At the Moolah Lanes, customers can take their same-day ticket stubs and receive a free bowling shoe rental or a free game of bowling.Also at the Moolah Theater is the Mini-Moolah Lounge, a smaller version of the main theater, furnished with the same leather love seats.

On Monday nights, visitors can patronize the concession stand and watch themed double features in the “Mini Moo.”  “We play television shows in [the Mini-Moolah Lounge] throughout the week, plus the Oscars, Rams games, and ‘Breaking Bad’ on Sundays,” Landon Burris, assistant manager, said.Burris explained the uniqueness of the Moolah and the Mini-Moolah Lounge.“[The Mini-Moolah Lounge] shows how special Moolah is, that people can come here and buy a concession and see a movie free,” Burris said.

The price is special at the Moolah in many ways. With student ticket prices of $7 and weekly events like $5 Wacky Wednesdays, the Moolah is an affordable way to experience the movies.Quality over quantity is a philosophy that rarely exists in a cinema multiplex, but at the Moolah it is reflected in the business model. This is partly because the Moolah caters to an audience that more closely resembles an unconventional, artistic movie crowd than that of a popular, box office hit. “You won’t find mainstream action or horror movies here, but really good movies of a higher quality,” Burris said. Burris said the owner of the Moolah, Harman Moseley, likes to take risks on smaller movies.

In the lobby of the Moolah, visitors will find a sign advertising the theater’s support for other businesses native to St. Louis. The concession stand carries local products, like Ted Drewes frozen custard, Billy Goat Chips, Dogtown Pizza and Lake Forest Confections. Starting this fall, the Moolah Theater will extend this St. Louis support to local filmmakers. Every Thursday, the Moolah will accept submissions from local, amateur filmmakers to be shown in the Mini-Moolah Lounge. “If it becomes a big enough film, they will play it in the main theater,” Burris said. “We want to do more stuff like that.”

On Oct. 6, the independent St. Louis film “A. (Anonymous)” will be the first of its kind played in the main theater. The special screening is scheduled for one night only, and a live band will be present for the event.Currently, Steven Soderbergh’s action-thriller “Contagion” is playing at the Moolah.

For more information and updates about the Moolah’s film schedule and events, visit their Facebook page at wwww.facebook.com/MoolahTheatre. Visit the Moolah’s website at www.stlouiscinemas.com/Moolah.

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