175 W. Nationwide Blvd., Arena District
The locally owned cinema scene had its share of upheaval in 2008, with Landmark assuming management duties for Campus Partners at the Gateway, the city's first all-digital projection booth going in at the Lincoln Theatre, Drexel Theatres consolidating to its original location in Bexley and new proprietors undertaking a significant renovation at the Grandview. Yet through it all, the Arena Grand has held a special place in the hearts of Alive readers.
A regular readers' poll winner, the Grand has the best of all worlds under a cathedral-height ceiling. Its hand-plastered walls, grand staircase and premium leather seating are a beautiful break from the colorful overkill of some multiplexes and the generic hooray-for-Hollywood vibe of others.
Awards contenders make the occasional stop among a diverse selection of mainstream movies at the Grand. Standard concession fare on the first floor is beefed up by a second-level bistro with sandwiches, pizzas, desserts and a full bar.
All of the auditoriums and a dedicated event space are available for private rental. And whether you're there for a movie, a function or to have a cocktail or two before crossing the street for a Blue Jackets game, the staff is always accommodating. If only Hollywood could deliver that consistently.
Runners up: Drexel Theatre, Studio 35