Hermon native Joshua Moulton long dreamed about how he could turn his love of film — cult, classic, horror, indie, you name it — into a full-time job, while staying in the Bangor area.
Opening a little arthouse cinema was too much of a financial gamble for him. But Moulton eventually arrived upon a novel idea, one that combined his cinephilia with the burgeoning popularity of arcade bars and board game cafes.
Queen City Cinema Club, which opens Friday, caters to film fans, video game addicts, board game aficionados and all-around pop culture lovers. Located in the lower level of 128 Main St., across the street from the Bangor Opera House, it’s a new addition to downtown that isn’t retail, or a restaurant or bar: It’s purely for entertainment.
“We have great restaurants downtown. We have great bars. But as for entertainment, it’s all event-based. There’s no place you can go to every night and always have something to do,” said Moulton, who until recently was a bartender at Blaze Restaurant in Bangor. “We’re aiming to fix that.”
Moulton and his manager and childhood friend, Steven “Boss” Bosse have spent the past six months transforming the former gym into a multi-purpose entertainment venue. There are two soundproofed cinemas, the larger of which can seat eight and can expand up to 20, the smaller of which can seat four and can expand up to 10. Both have high-definition projectors, surround sound and super-comfy reclining chairs.
Customers can rent a cinema for $20 for the smaller cinema or $40 for the larger, per two-hour block. The renter chooses a film or TV show to watch — Moulton currently has more than 1,200 DVDs in his own collection, with more arriving every day. Alternately, the renter can bring their own DVD or digital copy.
“We’re just providing the venue. The customer provides the movie. It’s a private screening but with all the trappings of a movie theater,” Moulton said.
Moulton plans to curate an ever-changing array of films available to rent to screen, like horror classics for the month of October, black directors and actors for the month of February, and holiday movies for December, as well as the potential for customers to rent a screen to watch things like the Superbowl and the Oscars.
“We really want to partner with local organizations to offer programming that complements what they do,” Moulton said. “That’s the thing we were really striving for — versatility. We can do a ton of different things under one roof. We can host birthday parties. We can do corporate events. We can tailor it to what people want.”
The rest of the place is divided into booths. The main area, where the bar is, has booths designed for tabletop gaming; there are around 100 games in-house. There’s also a room with booths designed for video gaming. There are a number of different consoles to use, from classic Nintendo and Sega to XBox and Wii, and thousands of games in-house. Gamers can also rent the cinemas for large-scale competitive gaming tournaments. Booths are free to use, with a purchase at the bar.
The arcade bar and board game cafe model has rapidly gained in popularity. Arcadia National Bar in Portland is one of the most popular spots in town, while nationally, places like Barcade, which has locations all over the Mid-Atlantic, and The Castle, in Beverly, Massachusetts, cater to gamers of all stripes, who want the social experience that a bar or cafe offers, while still getting to indulge in their favorite pastimes.
“I worked at a downtown restaurant for the past couple of years, and I saw so many people just looking down at their phones, playing games, not talking to anyone,” Bosse, who until recently managed Umami Noodle Bar, said. “Here, you can play games or watch a movie with people who love the same things you do. You just show up. We provide the rest.”
Moulton and Bosse and their friend, Retro Swagger co-owner Pete Hansen, did the majority of the work on the space themselves, from building walls to installing bathrooms. The overall look of the place combines the look of a retro diner or pizza parlor with lots of hip, quirky accents. Moulton built the bar himself out of cinderblocks and PVC pipes painted red and black, decorated with images from stills from iconic movies.
“It cost us maybe 1,200, 1,500 bucks to build the bar, and I think it looks cooler than something that might cost 10 times that,” Moulton said. “It’s all DIY. It’s all our own sweat.”
The bar will offer snacks like popcorn, pretzels and quick appetizers, as well as an array of Maine craft beer and wine, sodas, iced tea, energy drinks and other non-alcoholic beverages. Queen City Cinema Club is for all ages, and Moulton and Bosse — both of whom have worked in the restaurant industry for more than a decade — have lots of experience dealing with a crowd of mixed ages.
“We had to be all ages. We want to be all ages. We want to be a place that everybody can go,” said Moulton, who has a young video game- and film-loving son of his own, 12-year-old Malakai. “If you love the same things we love, come on in.”
Queen City Cinema Club opens for business at noon on Friday, July 13. Later this summer, QCCC will begin offering memberships, which includes special rates and members-only events. For more information, or to reserve a theater, visit queencitycinemaclub.com.
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