EVERYTHING about Gilson Cafe Cinema in Winsted excited us. When we learned a dinner and movie cinema existed in Connecticut, we felt elated. We thought once we visited old fashioned theaters and drive-ins, we were entrepreneurs of the “classic” movie-going experience. Boy were we naive! This cafe cinema has existed in the heart of Winsted for the past twenty-five years. Twenty-five years ago, Alan Nero, a former firefighter, converted this abandoned vaudeville theatre into a movie house complete with two screens and a built-in restaurant. Our hopes were high for Gilson Cafe Cinema. This is how our night panned out-
Gilson Cafe Cinema
Overall Grade: B-
Location: 345 Main Street, Winsted, CT
Type of movies: Occasionally current
Atmosphere: 9/10-When we arrived in Winsted, we were immediately reminded of Northampton. No, Winsted center is not as big or flashy but it comes equipped with plenty of quaint shops, hole in the wall restaurants and historic buildings that somehow age with grace. Gilson scheduled a jazz band to perform after the movie but canceled at the last minute. This band might have echoed the building’s vaudeville days. The movie house provides a retro vibe with its retro wall colors, comfy seats and old fashioned movie screens. Our tables, however, stood no taller than a standard footstool. We had to hunch over to eat our food.
Service: 9/10-Service was fast. The waitress provided our meal within the first fifteen minutes of the movie. She also brought us our check before the movie ended. It was kind of distracting to see waiters/waitresses walking around the theatre during the movie. We thought this protocol make might work better if the servers brought the food BEFORE the movie started and left a large pitcher of water on the tables. Come to think of it, we would have liked it if our tables stood taller than foot stools.
Price of Food: 2.5/5 Don’t be fooled by the seemingly cheap prices on the menu! You don’t get a lot for your money. Our $6.50 meals came with small sandwiches and a handful of chips. If our meals came with larger portions, the price would match. Unfortunately, our meals were no more filling than a snack off the dollar menu at a fast food restaurant. We recommend you eat at one of the nearby hole in the walls before you are seated for your movie.
Taste: 7/10-The taste of our meals left much to be desired. By that phrase, we mean we took a bite out of mediocrity-it wasn’t particularly good or bad. The taste lacked complexity and failed to differentiate from a typical movie theatre snack. We failed to see why we shouldn’t be eating popcorn or candy. Perhaps we ordered the wrong items or caught the chefs on a rushed day. We are open to broadening our horizons and re-evaluating this category.
Price Of Movie: 5/5-Gilson Cinema Cafe charges $7.50 per movie ticket! Most movie theaters charge upwards of $10+ dollars. AMC Loews charges around that amount for college students… but only on Thursdays. Bowtie Cinemas charges $8.50 for students with a college ID. Gilson’s charges never waiver. You pay for great sound quality and a large screen with Cinema-quality graphics.
In a nutshell: 32.5/40-Gilson Cafe Cinema left us with mixed emotions. We valued Gilson’s historical significance, great movie ticket prices and fine staff. However, we strongly believe that if Gilson adds variety to its menu and larger portions for the price, it will find more success as a dinner + movie venue. We recommend you visit for the low ticket price, great sound quality and the historical experience. You might also want to check out the jazz band (and other musical performances) if you stop by on a Saturday night.
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