Submitted by danib62 t3_zx7dve in washingtondc

Me and my partner went to go see I Wanna Dance With Somebody Monday night at the relatively new Alamo in DC. This was our first time going to any Alamo theater. After hearing a lot of hype online about the chain the experience fell short for the following reasons:

-no one ever checked our tickets on the way in

-it took a server at least 10 minutes to come introduce themselves and take our initial order (2 drinks and a churro popcorn)

-it took 30 minutes to get our full initial order and it came out one item at a time which was pretty disruptive as the movie had already started

-we asked for water 3 times during the movie and never received it

-I ordered a beer in the middle of the movie and it took over 20 minutes to receive it

-at one point it sounded like all the servers got into a loud argument during the movie and one quit which was very disruptive

-a server came midway through the film to “re-swipe” my credit card that had already been swiped before the movie started. Why couldn’t this have waited till the end?

-the party sitting next to us also seemed like they had a lot of issues with their orders and were constantly going back and forth with the servers which was super disruptive. After checks were delivered they used the stupid flash on their phones to read it in the middle of the movie and then got into a prolonged argument with the staff over inaccuracies in it.

Is this typical across the chain or is this DC being special? Not sure we’re going to bother going back (though if we do we now know we don’t need to bother paying for tickets…)



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webren t1_j1zbp96 wrote

We love movies and go about twice a month to this location. We've also encountered issues. During Avatar 2 the employees were huddled in the room right outside of the seating area and were laughing and talking loudly through the most of the movie. I was sitting up high in the seats and could see the right side of the room constantly look over wondering what all the noise is. It was so bizarre given Alamo makes a point in the previews to not talk or text during the movie. They literally have 2 previews that tell everyone to quiet their conversations and phones, and then come back with a "Seriously we'll throw you out after 1 warning". I eventually went down to the room and politely asked the employees to be aware of their volume and that it's interrupting the movie. They thankfully kept their volume down but it's crazy that a customer has to do that.

Also have seen and experienced lots of issues with food/drink orders. I typically order just a glass of wine or two and the first glass sometimes comes out 30 minutes into the movie while everyone else around me is receiving their complicated food orders (even though I ordered before them) - huh? During one night, the party next to us got upset because they never received some food items but they were billed for them on their check at the end of the movie. When the party was explaining to the server that they never received a few items and for sure wouldn't pay for them, the server just seemed sort of incredulous and wasn't apologetic.

Alamo has an excellent track record and is known for their movie theater experience and great service, but I do think there needs to be a retraining of staff at the DC location. I sent some feedback and suggestions to management and haven't heard back.


danib62 OP t1_j1zc7k1 wrote

I find generally that customer service in DC lags behind other major metro areas in the country and Alamo is no exception.


consultantk t1_j22pomj wrote

I’ve felt this too, particularly the last 3 years. Aside from higher end restaurants, I rarely am pleased with customer service ANYWHERE in the city anymore.


dctribeguy t1_j22uyww wrote

In my experience this is more of an urban vs suburban thing. Customer service in DC is similar to what I’ve experienced in Dallas, Philly, and NYC. Service in the DC suburbs is much better than in the city and pretty comparable to what I’ve experienced in other suburban areas around the country.


dc_dobbz t1_j20310o wrote

I’ve had issues with incorrect orders or slow service but never with noise from the staff. I wonder if they’re having issues.


campbeer t1_j21os4v wrote

It's complex, it's a mixture of inequality, DC VIP, and expectations IMO. In my 20+ years here, I've seen way worse patrons than servers.


SquishWindow t1_j20dgak wrote

> I sent some feedback and suggestions to management and haven't heard back.

Bold move, considering Alamo's reputation


badimojo t1_j1zd7be wrote

Had a very similar experience when I went before the "grand open" back in February or so. In addition to experiencing many of the issues you noted, like an incorrect check and never getting water in spite of ordering it multiple times, we also never got a corrected check after waiting for around a half-hour after the credits finished rolling and the lights came up. At that point, it wasn't worth the $10 so we just left.

I used to work at a couple of the original Alamos in Austin, and it's a shame to see how much the standard of service has dropped at some of these franchised locations - this one certainly included. A lot of my old colleagues agree, based on their own experiences, which they shared in a vent post I made to Facebook after the fact.

I also emailed the RI Ave general manager and never heard back from him - another red flag, if you ask me. Sucks to hear that months later, not much has changed.


Itwantshunger t1_j2abqhr wrote

Ironically the best service was when I went to a sold out screening. They were properly staffed and responded quickly with orders. The empty screenings just don't have the same quality and quantity of staff.


MartinScorsese t1_j1yxilg wrote

I've been to the RI Ave location several times, and it's always been a delight. I wouldn't judge your experience solely over a holiday weekend, since that is one of the busiest times for theater workers everywhere.

> though if we do we now know we don’t need to bother paying for tickets

I look forward to the post here where someone tries to see a movie, and they're disrupted by thieves occupying their assigned seats.


bageloclock t1_j20o2eo wrote

Yeah we’ve always had pretty good experiences. Only “issue” was nobody’s fault but our own; we saw a popular movie at a peak time (like a Saturday at 7pm) and the crowd was rather talkative. I know they say you can alert a manager to disruptive folks but I don’t want to be a snitch lol


chris-bro-chill t1_j21h35s wrote

You’re not being a snitch, you’re being a good customer for their business model.


CriticalStrawberry t1_j1zju8l wrote

Have had mixed experiences at the RI Ave location. They can't seem to find staff that understand Alamo's typical demographic or simply don't care.

The Crystal City location that just opened has been much better. There's still a lot of staff training so there have been a few hiccups. But none of the turnover and downright rude employees that we experienced at RI Ave. I guess time will tell if it follows the same path.


GloomyPapaya t1_j1zey1v wrote

I loved Alamo in the previous state I lived in… This location is just exceptionally bad. I’ve gone three times in the last year and had similar experiences to yours every time. Twice my orders never even showed up and I had to stay after the movie to deal with my bill. Once I showed up and there were people in the seat I booked so they relocated me. It’s just a nightmare.


endlessly_apollo t1_j1zswh0 wrote

I tend to avoid anything that’s a suburban concept placed into DC— I hate to say it but it’s always ran poorly or staff aren’t trained properly. I’m sure there are exceptions but it’s has to be systematic issue.


Scared-Personality28 t1_j1z9ygx wrote

Same, live about 10mins away from this location, have been multiple times and what you're describing is my experience just about every time. Do what I did, find a new theater to go to. And this isn't my experience, with all Alamo Drafthouse locations, just this one.


RockItGuyDC t1_j1zlnar wrote

I've been to this location 7 or 8 times and the one in LA a couple, and have had nothing but good experiences. ::Shrug::


Scared-Personality28 t1_j211yp9 wrote

I'm envious of your experience at the DC location.


RockItGuyDC t1_j21ut1b wrote

When did you go and have a bad experience? What weekday and time? Because if you're going to a major show, opening weekend, 7-10pm, there's a good chance you're going to have a bad experience. That's true, in my experience, at pretty much every theater anywhere. That's when the rabble comes out and they tend to ruin everything.


Scared-Personality28 t1_j21zm13 wrote

Went just recently and not for a release showing, I do believe it was on a Thursday, granted it was around 7. I've been when it's slow and no one is in the theater, where I feel like staff doesn't care cause no one's in the theater, and I've been when it's busy and it feels like the staff aren't trained well and show their ass. I typically give a spot multiple tries, I completely understand folks have a bad day or things just aren't clicking, so I go multiple times. It's just that when I go multiple times and 85% of the time I have a pretty bad experience, time for a new spot. Love Alamo Drafthouse, just not this one.


MFoy t1_j1z5v16 wrote

Since Alamo came to One Loudoun, the only time I ever go anywhere else is if I can't see it anywhere else, or I'm taking my kids. I'm sorry you had this experience.


nicdoesreddit t1_j1zxwje wrote

Also love the One Loudoun Alamo, unfortunate to hear the other locations aren't as good


mikeylou t1_j2348x9 wrote

Us too. Never had a bad experience at One Loudon and we were there often pre-2019.

Been to the other one a couple of times with no complaint too.

Never had a ticket checked at the door - here, Winchester, or San Antonio. Always checked at the seat.


t3irelan t1_j1ze9ei wrote

Same experiences, but what I started doing is going about 20 min early and order my drinks at the bar and walk to my seat, then put my order in right away. Usually shows up near the start of the show. Sucks that they can’t fix these operational issues, but I’m too lazy to go anywhere else.


VoodooGirl47 t1_j20s8fa wrote

That's what I'd do, and order my second drink when I was getting my first. If it got delayed a bit, then hopefully it would show up by the time I wanted it.


Jewell84 t1_j216gz4 wrote

you can also bring food from the bar up to your seat.

They have a decent happy hour that ends at 7pm. What I’ve been doing is ordering my first drink and app at the bar, then second drink and popcorn in the theater.


No-Presentation5871 t1_j1zr4dg wrote

At the Alamos I have been to, they never check your tickets until you in the theater. Your server checks them before the movie starts! I thought that was their thing and I actually kind of like not having to deal with anyone until I am comfortable in my seat!


namzug231 t1_j1zy0at wrote

I've been to this theatre ~10 times and this past Monday was the only time I noticed issues. Had to remind the server to place my order (they turned off my request button without taking my order), and the popcorn and beer took almost 30 minutes to arrive. Other people in my row had to call the server repeatedly when their order was wrong and again when the bill was incorrect. And a couple times I could hear the servers grumbling and arguing with each other. I thought this might just be an off day...


ta112233 t1_j20wcfw wrote

Sounds like typical DC customer service. People here simply DGAF and don’t bother to pretend they do.


twenty-six-sixty-six t1_j1z7kdk wrote

I've had one good experience and one bad experience at this location. The bad one, they didn't bring my order (popcorn and a lemonade) for 25+ minutes. I made aggressive eye contact with one of the servers and repeated my order, and he finally brought it. Several servers smelled like weed and gave off "I don't give a shit" vibes

feels like a lot of new, inexperienced, unmotivated staff. In another environment that might not be a problem, but the way alamo is set up the staff needs to stay on top of things


danib62 OP t1_j1zagn6 wrote

Oh my favorite was the one server who had her AirPods in. Super professional.


OhHowIMeantTo t1_j1za70t wrote

I've been several times this year, and experienced the same issues each time as you. Ordering a beer, it's taken at minimum 25 minutes to receive it, and one time a full hour. I even went to the lobby to ask for help, and I was told to go back to the theater as my waiter would help me. And these weren't sold out shows, and each time it seemed they had multiple people working each screen.


Have_a_PizzaMyMind t1_j1yrx0t wrote

Yeah that sounds terrible. I went to the one in Arlington, ordered my food during the previews and all of us got all of our food before the movie started.

Then we enjoyed the movie with our food and drinks. I had a great time. Nothing like what you've described here.

They definitely checked our tickets in Arlington.


AsbestosIn0bstetrics t1_j1z857j wrote

I wonder if this concept will endure. When I go to a theater, I'm there to watch the movie and not be distracted by the food and drink ordering/serving processes. If I want to eat a pizza and drink beers while watching a movie, I'll do that at home.


CriticalStrawberry t1_j1zl50t wrote

The original concept was fantastic. I've been multiple times in Austin, TX where they started and it was great. No talking and phone use policy is STRICTLY enforced. Like no warning, you get caught you're out. Loved it. And the serving staff lived up to the "sneaky ninja" reputation that Alamo claims all locations should have. No walking standing up, crouching only. If they need a clarification on an order, they'd write it on a card for you, not talk during the movie. So it really wasn't distracting at all. Best movie experience I've ever had. And most of the time the employees were all cinema buffs and understood their target audience. Not just off the street servers.

These newer locations though appear to be out of touch with that though. Bringing your order and literally standing up in front of you blocking the screen asking if this is yours. Talking to customers regularly during the film at full volume. And having a more laxxed no talking/phone use policy. We've had to report multiple people and they just get multiple warnings by a manager.

I'm a huge cinema lover. We used to see nearly every movie we watched in a proper theater. These days, in doing more and more to my living room to make it feel like a home theater and staying home. Paying $20/per to go and just be annoyed the entire film by both staff and other patrons just doesn't do it for me.


danib62 OP t1_j1z8b0l wrote

Yea I appreciate being able to sip a beer during the show but food-wise I’m not gonna order anything more involved than popcorn or similar snack food.


puttinonthefoil t1_j1zek81 wrote

The person who checks your tickets is typically your server when you’ve reached your seat.

I’ve been there 3x and your experience seems way worse than the times I’ve gone!


danib62 OP t1_j1zf2la wrote

It seemed like our server was new/poorly trained. He seemed generally overwhelmed and didn’t seem to know what he was doing when putting in our initial order and just generally didn’t seem comfortable interacting with customers yet.


CertainAged-Lady t1_j1yvtec wrote

Bummer - we go to the one at Loudoun One all the time and it’s always good. Clean, staff is always attentive and the food is pretty tasty & comes out quickly. They are very attentive to the drinks as long as you put out your little paper.


Commercial-Factor521 t1_j1z1vue wrote

Contrary to other commentators, I’ve been several times and each time there has been an issue. Usually it’s just they bring the wrong drink order - different beer or boozy milkshake with no explanation. Because even that has taken a long time, I have always just drank it and got in with the show. So obviously not an ideal situation, but not enough to deter me from going back.


Superb_Distance_9190 t1_j1zk8dw wrote

This area always has the worst experiences when it comes to chains. Sucks but it is what it is. In this high COL area it’s not as easy to hire dependable staff with the pay they are offering.


bangzoom93 t1_j1yxc4z wrote

I’ve been multiple times to the DC one and that’s basically been my experience every time so I decided to stop going


BlueRidge7 t1_j1z1sq3 wrote

I’ve been to the DC location a couple times. Both times were great. Staff did a great job.


Ueueteotl t1_j1zqq9j wrote

This is DC. It's great in Austin.


ieatglass t1_j203cgu wrote

We gone twice (opening day and a month ago). Both times it was a shitty experience. We won’t go back


Mountain_Lotus_ t1_j20w1p1 wrote

They’re hiring low brow people with zero class


DebatableAwesome t1_j1zupbe wrote

I went once when they opened and wouldn't go back again. We put in an order for drinks and food and literally didn't get it until minutes before the credits were rolling.


Bebop0420 t1_j202ziy wrote

We went to the Crystal City location last week and had zero problems and quite enjoyed it. We were right next to the door so the server coming in and out was slightly disruptive but that’s unavoidable sitting where we were. Would highly recommend the CC location.


KumaChorou t1_j1yyrdr wrote

Yeah this seems like an off night. I’ve been to that one and the Arlington one a bunch of times, worst thing that ever happened is someone ordered a pizza that smelled like ass (it was awful).

Aside from that we never got our tickets checked until we sat down and then the server would check tickets and open a tab.


the_eso t1_j1zmnoo wrote

I live close to there and have been probably 10 times since it opened. Probably 3 times there have been issues, 1 time just not getting things that were ordered, and a couple other times getting a drink after a super long time. I haven't found a pattern to when the service is bad or good - doesn't seem to matter whether the theater is full or not, or how long it's been since the place opened. Overall though, I've enjoyed going there for movies.


the5nowman t1_j216rd9 wrote

It’s been hit or miss for us too. May start trekking to CC location if what I’m seeing re: their bar for consistent quality is true.


BrightThru2014 t1_j1zn536 wrote

You went to a chain movie theatre in NE DC, I have no idea why you would expect your experience to be positive.


photographingaghost t1_j202dwk wrote

I’ve only ever been to this location so idk how other locations are like. I’ve always assumed that it took a long time for the food because 50+ people are showing up and ordering at the same time.

That being said I’ve also had them completely not bring us our food or drink 2 out of 5ish times I’ve been there


notevenapro t1_j20e24d wrote

Go out to loudon one and see. This is like an alamo outlier. Kind of sad.


CocoBware t1_j20axkm wrote

Had the exact same experience when I tried it out a few months ago. I waited 30 minutes for a popcorn and a Diet Coke. Constantly having immersion broken by employees scurrying back and forth. Makes no sense, can’t see why this ever became a successful chain.

I also discussed the issues with the manager that night and he didn’t seem to care at all, just brushed me off and half-heartedly said thanks for the feedback.


johnny2ratchet t1_j20s1ee wrote

Yep, I went once and had a similar experience. Never got the second round of drinks we ordered, but you can bet we got charged for them. I won't be going back.


nomasslurpee t1_j1z8tju wrote

This is not typical. Texas transplant here. I typically went to the Alamo Drafthouse in San Antonio. The customer service is unparalleled. I was excited to see that there was a location in Virginia, which I have been to only once since moving here. It was a good experience. I have yet to go to the location in DC so I can't speak for that, but I think you are seeing customer service post pandemic at its finest.


SmallieBigs56 t1_j1zipmn wrote

Having never been to any Alamo drafthouse, but have always heard good things (sister lives in Austin), I’m kind of amazed this kind of thing is actually workable. Like, yeah, how can everyone in the theater ordering food to their seats not be disruptive?


nomasslurpee t1_j1zjfmn wrote

I think the earlier locations have the benefit of understanding the ebbs and flows. There is a last call during the movie, I think it's usually an hour from the end, where all the remaining orders have to be put in. Most people put their orders in before the movie starts. When you need something, you write it on a ticket and put it in this stand that alerts the staff that you need something. I found it rare that people needed too much during the movie, and the staff usually crouches down and takes appropriate routes to get to your chair. When it's functioning, its a great system.


OhHowIMeantTo t1_j202anj wrote

You have a menu, slips of paper, and a pen at your seat. In theory, you write your order down, press a call button, and a waiter comes to silently take the paper. But this location has major issues.


Less_Wrong_ t1_j20a6q7 wrote

It probably depends a lot on their staffing. Been there 5 times in the last year and it was great. Went last month and it was pretty terrible service.


patriotgator122889 t1_j21b3uk wrote

I tried the season pass about six months ago and found many of these problems. I like the Alamo idea, but they couldn't execute it or maintain standards.


davebearly t1_j21tsia wrote

We’ve been twice and had two bad experiences. Gonna try the Crystal City location and I really hope it’s better.


[deleted] t1_j21xy05 wrote

Went twice both experiences were similar to yours, never received things we ordered, long wait times and the food we did receive was mid


SonJulio t1_j1zmldx wrote

We never even got our drinks or food though we ordered it 3 times and kept reminding the server. So this location we will not plan on returning to.


FejizeKoy t1_j1zvsk2 wrote

Oh yeah I’ve had issues almost every time I’ve gone. Terrible service. I’ve decided to stop trying.


danib62 OP t1_j20hjsx wrote

So apparently the theaters in the area are franchised out and not actually owned Alamo. I wonder how HQ feels about their brand being watered down?


Ry90Ry t1_j21386a wrote

I never liked Alamo, I hate the staff going around during the movie.

Atlantic plumbing and Angelicka are good alts


GrossePointeJayhawk t1_j219mdf wrote

I’ve had mixed service like most posters. On the one hand, I’ve had great service that has been timely and professional; and I love the fact that the theaters have a no talking or texting policy, or late arrivals. On the other there have been moments when I’ve had to flag down a server to wonder where my beer and popcorn were nearly 30 minutes after I’ve order it, or I’ve had the popcorn arrive and not the beer, or vice versa. I’ve also had servers ignore me. Personally I’ll keep going back because I really like it but I know to temper my expectations.


vanmac82 t1_j1yssr9 wrote

Sounds like it was a stressful evening for staff there. I wouldn’t let this bad experience keep you from giving it another go.


dataminimizer t1_j1yz49u wrote

I’ve only been once, but my experience at Alamo was terrific, so I’d be willing to give them another chance.


Substantial-Being-35 t1_j21f7ph wrote

I have frequented the Alamo at One Loudoun for several years. Your tickets will not be checked until you are seated, it's actually by design. The only time I ever had poor service was the first time I went back after the pandemic restrictions were lifted. It was obvious the staff was new, and I was not happy. After the movie I received an email asking for feedback, which I responded to. I was honest but also kind and understanding. The manager reached out to me for some additional feedback and thanked me. Ever since, the service has been top notch for me. Hopefully your location figures it out soon.


onIyfrans t1_j23w7r3 wrote

the crystal city one is less rowdy!


cyrusXrealtor t1_j21p9sx wrote

First visit to an Alamo theater was in November this year in NYC. Had a great experience. Service and food were excellent.


thekingoftherodeo t1_j1z8duq wrote

Did you raise the above with a manager?


danib62 OP t1_j1z8j95 wrote

I was on a date so I didn’t want to raise a stink right then and there but I emailed in my feedback after getting home.


thekingoftherodeo t1_j1z8rxe wrote

I mean I don't know how you expect them to take action after the fact? The ticket checking comment is bizarre - you're upset you could've presumably got in for free otherwise?


danib62 OP t1_j1z8vuv wrote

I think it’s just indicative of their poor attention to detail and was sort of a “huh that’s weird” way to start the experience.


Animaled t1_j1za3xj wrote

They check your tickets once you're in your seat.


thekingoftherodeo t1_j1z98o4 wrote

It's a poor experience but one I'd chalk down to them having an off night - definitely not worthy of a standalone post! As you see in the replies the majority (all) have had positive experiences with Alamo, myself included.

Btw - you'd don't need to downvote anyone who disagrees with you ;)


danib62 OP t1_j1z9j6j wrote

I mean the purpose of the post was to see if this is a typical experience here in DC given that Alamo generally has a phenomenal reputation. Based on replies here it seems like my experience at the DC one isn’t entirely out of the ordinary. I’m trying to decide if it’s worth giving them another shot.


RandomLogicThough t1_j1z6rj8 wrote

Tip the server $5 when you first see them you probably do better. /Never been to one but complaining they didn't check tickets and that you're not gonna pay next time just makes you a (bad) weirdo. /A (good) weirdo


danib62 OP t1_j1z70jv wrote

Tipping before you receive service isn’t a tip, it’s a bribe. The not paying next time thing was joke.


RandomLogicThough t1_j1z7p8w wrote

...I mean the connotation for bribe doesn't quite fit but yea, sure, you're getting it. When you get your first drink at a bar you tip well, it's same idea man. Anyway, I'm not feeling this interaction so I'm gonna end it.


debyrne t1_j1z8c9h wrote

Did you mean to post this on your personal blog ???

Perhaps Google reviews?

What in the world.

Do you want comfort?

“It’s gonna be okay, you live in a time you can watch movies and get high calorie food served to you. I’m sorry you feel entitled to joy and happiness with every experience in modern society”.


danib62 OP t1_j1z8e1e wrote

Did you mean to keep scrolling?