While department store closings continue to plague malls and create large tenant vacancies, new entertainment ventures are opening their doors to attract consumers to come to their marbled, air-conditioned havens. On July 5, Flix Brewhouse unveiled its new location inside of East Towne Mall with a screening of Ant-Man — although the movie is only part of the Flix Brewhouse experience.

The East Towne Mall Flix Brewhouse is the first Wisconsin location for the Texas-based chain. The theatre is geared toward adult patrons, and as a result, has a noticeably different vibe from your local AMC. This provides a relaxing, unique movie-going and dining experience that cannot be found elsewhere in the city.

Since I am a semi-broke college student who works at the mall, I was invited to attend a preview experience prior to the official opening of Flix Brewhouse. While a showtime was marked on my ticket, Flix Brewhouse recommends arriving at the theatre 25-30 minutes prior to the listed showtime. This recommendation isn’t just so you don’t miss the previews; no late seating is allowed after the posted showtime. Besides, there’s food and brews for of-age guests to enjoy both outside and inside the theatre.

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Just past the point of entry into the complex, a dining area and bar awaits guests who either do not wish to view a movie or want to eat before their film. The spacious, modern interior provides a nice contrast to the often crowded dining spaces found at restaurants closer to campus.

Once inside the theatre, you are greeted by your server, who gives you a rundown of how the in-theatre service works before taking your drink and appetizer order. While I did not get to enjoy the 12 in-house brews available, I thoroughly enjoyed the fact I could sip a Shirley Temple while viewing the film. The assortment of appetizers available run the gamut from chicken wings to poke. Never fear, popcorn lovers — it’s still served here as well.

Angela Peterson/The Badger Herald

Entrée options are similarly varied. Salads, tacos, pizza and burgers are featured on the menu — showcasing pub style food as a perfect compliment to the brewery style. I ordered a steak avocado wrap, which had a surprisingly nice level of spice and came with a side of fries. The chicken wings and tacos my companions ordered looked divine. While I was stuffed after the main course, the theatre also offers dessert options such as milkshakes, brownies and cream-cheese filled pretzels that can be enjoyed either during or after your movie.

In order to serve patrons while maintaining a quiet environment for guests, the service becomes silent once the previews are over. Patrons can push a button and their server sneaks over to them while ducking under the service counters, communicating through notepads located at your seat. While the servers were still perfecting this maneuver at my screening, I believe these ninja-esque movements will improve as the staff becomes more comfortable in the theatre.

Beyond providing entertainment, Flix Brewhouse also hopes to establish community connections through charitable outreach. The location is currently partnered with RISE, an organization dedicated to providing mental health and wellness services for children, families and young adults in Dane County. It’s nice to see a chain establishment form community bonds so quickly.

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Flix Brewhouse is located on Madison Metro bus route six, making this a convenient and fun way to use your free student bus pass. Be wary of age limits for films, however. Due to the brewery nature of the theatre, only patrons older than 21 are allowed to come to showings after 7 p.m. without a legal adult.

Along with the upcoming Portillo’s, Flix Brewhouse will make East Towne a destination for University of Wisconsin students again.