The Rialto – A different kind of movie experience in Raleigh

This past weekend my wife and I went out to see the Jeff Bridge’s movie “Crazy Heart”.  We enjoy going to the movies and one of our favorite places to go in Raleigh is the Rialto Theater in the Five Points area on the fringe of downtown Raleigh. The Rialto offers a different movie experience than what you typically get at one of the big multiplex cinemas. It only has one screen and typically shows independent and art house style films. Because it is a smaller theater they don’t have a lot of staff, but what they lack in numbers they make up for in service. It isn’t uncommon for the person working the box office to be the same person to help you at the concession stand. Oh yeah, make sure you stop by an ATM on your way because they don’t accept credit cards at theater.

The Rialto may be an older theater, but they have comfortable new seats that have those handy drink holders. The seating is not “stadium style” but more like a traditional theater with a gradual slope and a movie screen set up on a stage in the front (pictures). There is some interesting recessed lighting that gives the theater a unique ambiance while you are waiting for your movie to start. You can buy the typical movie candy and popcorn at the concession stand in the small quaint lobby but the great thing is you can also purchase beer and wine at the theater to enjoy with your movie. They have several different beers in bottles and on tap. Often times more than a few are brews made in North Carolina if not from a local brewery located right here in the Triangle. On trip there this weekend I had pint of a Shotgun Betty from the local LoneRider Brewing Company.  I’m not usually a huge fan of wheat beers, but I found this one to be very good

One of the great thing about catching a movie there is that since it is located in the heart of Five Points you can easily grab at bite to eat at Lily’s Pizza or The Point before your show and then just walk over to the theater. Or after the movie you can drop into Third Place for a late night coffee of the Haye’s Barton Cafe for one of the famous pieces of cake. Parking can be a little tight on Glenwood on weekends, but I find there is always ample parking in the school parking lot just around the corner on Fairview Road (you are allowed to park there during the evenings and weekends).  Oh, and remember, if you go to the last show on Friday night, you might be lucky enough to see the folks headed to The Rocky Horror Picture show, which screens every Friday at midnight.

Click here to see interior pictures of the Rialto as it looked back in 1942.

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