Rich Howells

Iron Horse Movie Bistro in Scranton closes after less than a year, Marketplace says it’s temporary

Iron Horse Movie Bistro in Scranton closes after less than a year, Marketplace says it’s temporary
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At midnight last night, the Iron Horse Movie Bistro in downtown Scranton announced suddenly on Facebook that it would be closing its doors after less than a year in business, though the adjacent Marketplace at Steamtown claims this is only temporary.

Run by Phoenix Theatres Entertainment in Knoxville, Tennessee, the theater’s simple Facebook post thanks customers for their patronage, apologizes for any inconvenience, and offers full reimbursement to anyone with gift cards or Super Saver tickets. The Iron Horse website has been taken down, but the Marketplace at Steamtown just posted the following message on its Facebook page at 11:34 a.m.:

As you may have seen already, The Iron Horse Movie Bistro is temporarily closed. We will be back soon, and better than ever! Stay tuned for our updates!

With full service of food and alcohol to patrons sitting in new plush reclining seats, the “luxury movie theater” opened across from the Marketplace at Steamtown on April 28, 2017 after renovating the previous Marquee Cinemas that had closed in that location years before. Allowing moviegoers to choose their seats in advance, Iron Horse was packed during its opening weekend and received positive reviews but seemed to have trouble maintaining those crowds, offering new releases, $5 movies all day on Tuesdays, special screenings of classic films, a rewards club, and special events like the NEPA Horror Film Festival during its run.

While the changing habits of consumers and the convenience of streaming media could partially be blamed, the theater (301 Lackawanna Ave., Scranton) also faced stiff competition from the beginning with the Regal Dickson City Stadium 14 & IMAX in Dickson City less than six miles away and the long-established Cinemark 20 in Moosic just seven miles away. Cinemark and Regal also renovated their theaters to include reclining seats and added the ability to choose your own seats in response to the opening of Iron Horse, leaving Iron Horse without much of an edge over them in the nine months it was open. Though it was the only theater with alcohol, Iron Horse’s beer, cocktails, and mixed drinks were generally priced higher than nearby bars and restaurants.

The new Scranton Public Market at the Marketplace at Steamtown across the street is nearing completion, but there are very few stores currently open in the former mall to attract customers downtown. Iron Horse validated parking in its adjacent garage, and those without transportation could easily walk or take a bus there, but the competing theaters have large parking lots and plenty of nearby stores, shopping centers, and restaurants to attract consumers and keep them busy.

No official reason for the closure have been provided yet, but these factors certainly didn’t help Iron Horse push through its first year. If the Marketplace’s added statement proves to be accurate, the theater may open up again under new management, though no specific timeframe was given.

Those looking for reimbursement of gift cards or Super Saver tickets can mail them to: PBCM LLC, Attn: Accounts Payable, 9111 Cross Park Dr., Suite E-275, Knoxville, TN 37923.

Read NEPA Scene’s full review of Iron Horse’s opening weekend here.

  • Lance C. Phillips

    I must beg to differ based on many visits to the Iron Horse Bistro theater. Your claim that the beer, mixed drinks and food was higher than usual when compared to a normal food and drink location is simply incorrect. Micro-brew draft beers were priced at $5.35.
    I’ve paid that price at many local pubs. It’s hard to really comment on the mixed drinks as they we’re all specialty drinks with anywhere from 3 to 4 shots of booze. A huge 1/2 lb. Burger sold for $10.00 slightly higher than a bar would charge but well below what one would pay at a speciality venue such as a RailRiders or Hockey game. Especially so compared to a concert at Montage. And I.M.O. who the hell goes to the movies to eat? And keeping that in mind, how cool was it to see a first run feature for $6, $5 on Tuesday? Moviegoers in Philly or N.Y.C. would have killed to have a venue such as The Iron Horse Bistro!

    • My experience was different than yours. I purchased one Yuengling and one mixed drink and it was almost $20. This same purchase just a just few blocks up at The Keys or a few blocks over at Ale Mary’s would be much cheaper than that. Movie theaters make more money through concessions than they do ticket sales, but I don’t think putting them in the same league as sports and concert venues is a fair comparison. I do agree, though, that ticket prices were reasonable and other areas would love a venue like that. I enjoyed the theater overall and hope it returns soon.

      • Lance C. Phillips

        I was at the Iron Horse no more than 3 weeks prior to yesterdays closing.The beers were priced at $5.25 and there was NO Yuengling. Months before it was on the list of beers but this was corrected by the time I visited again, I mentioned to the person at the concessions stand that Yuengling is an extremely popular beer in our area and would probably be your biggest seller.. Bottom line ,I have no idea how you got a Yuengling.! The drinks all seemed to be “specialty”drinks with 3 or more shots in them making them more expensive ,,,but if the beer was $5.25, I’m to believe you paid almost $15 for the drink?

        • Why would I make up the fact that I bought a Yuengling? This visit was within the first few weeks of them being open, so maybe they no longer carried it when you were there. The Yuengling was at least $5 and the mixed drink around $13, so it worked out to $18 and change. Those drinks were the only thing I bought, and I asked my wife and she remembered the purchase being a little over $18 as well. That’s definitely more than I would have paid at the bar up the street.