09 Jun A “Flixian” Adaptation
Duane Davis, Vice President of Construction
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In 1963, professor and author Dr. Leon Megginson summarized Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species thus:
“[I]t is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the member of the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”
There is no debating that intelligence and strength are important ingredients, and Flix, like its competitors, strives to excel in both areas. We have tremendously intelligent people on our team, but that doesn’t make us necessarily unique. And we certainly aren’t the strongest member of the “dine-in cinema” species (yet), though I do believe we certainly expect to be, someday.
Where I do think we have a distinct edge is our adaptability. Our willingness to question everything – to constantly look for ways to refine and improve what we’re doing – has played a significant role in the progress we’ve made thus far and it is a philosophy that continues to guide us as we navigate the journey ahead.
When you step back and look at the evolution of the Flix Brewhouse concept, you find evidence of adaptability everywhere. But where I see it most every day is in the design and construction of our physical facilities. Anyone who has visited both our Flix Brewhouse units in Round Rock, Texas and Carmel, Indiana for example, can attest to the refinements and improvements evident in the later – the evolution of the physical facility from location #1 to location #3 is significant.
The interior of location #4 (Albuquerque, currently under construction) will be similar to Carmel in both layout and “fit and finish,” but as our first ever ground-up, stand-alone Flix Brewhouse construction project, it will have an external feel that is quite different from any location currently in operation. It is a project that has presented an opportunity to expand our understanding of how we want to build a brand new, free-standing Flix Brewhouse in the future. The lessons learned will be of great value as we continue to explore the possibilities that the relatively blank canvas of ground-up construction affords us.
The next truly significant leap forward in the evolution of the prototypical Flix building is taking place right now as we design location #5 (another ground-up Flix, this one in Little Elm, Texas, a northern suburb of Dallas). Little Elm arguably represents our most ambitious build yet. The overarching design directive was, basically: figure out a way to fit an 8-screen Flix Brewhouse into a building footprint that is 10% smaller than Carmel and Albuquerque, without losing any seats, compromising the guest experience in any way, or negatively impacting operational efficiency.
We considered, researched, and rejected a number of different ideas to achieve this goal. Ultimately, we decided to utilize the vertical cube more efficiently by putting the kitchen upstairs (stacked above our two smallest auditoriums), turning what was previously just a mechanical projection mezzanine into a full blown service delivery level with far greater utility than we’ve realized on past builds. In this new configuration, the auditoriums are served from the rear, from the mezzanine level, with guest circulation below, on the promenade level.
Doing this required a major shift in how we’d previously approached the concepts of space planning and work flow. Putting the kitchen upstairs was easy in theory, but solving the design and engineering puzzle of syncing all of the vertical elevations to integrate the mezzanine with the promenade level in a manner conducive to delivering the seamless service experience we are committed to was challenging at best.
I’m under no illusion that what we’ve designed for Little Elm is perfect – as is our wont, we’ll continue to refine and improve the design going forward. But I believe that the design of the Flix Brewhouse building in Little Elm will allow us to construct more efficient food and drink delivery systems, provide a better in-theater guest service experience, and do all of that in a building that, because of its reduced footprint, will cost substantially less over the life of a typical Flix lease although its initial cost will be higher. When it is completed, I think Flix Little Elm will be as good a dine-in cinema as anyone has constructed to date anywhere in North America. Given Flix’s relatively short time operating in the cinema dining space, that would be an enviable achievement.