The Empire strikes back

JESSICA RAPANA
Last updated 10:31 29/05/2014

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The Wellingtonian

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Island Bay's Empire Cinema will re-open its doors this year, although the date is yet to be finalised.

Local residents Pat and Carla Vinaccia bought the Wellington theatre late last year, after it was sold at mortgagee sale.

They decided soon after that they would re-open the art deco building as a cinema and eatery, after receiving support from the industry and the local community.

The couple hoped to open for the July school holidays, but are now looking at later in the year.

"We have had a few hiccups along the way, but we are hoping to have a better idea in a couple of months," Pat Vinaccia said.

The three-cinema theatre is being completely refurbished, with a change of configuration to fit more people into the space.

The Vinaccias also plan to open a window to sell coffee and food to people walking past or waiting at the bus stop outside.

While the eatery's menu is not finalised, the couple are certain of one thing - the food will be good.

Carla Vinaccia said she wanted to go back to old-school for food - "really good food, made fresh on- site, with love".

She said everything would be made on the premises and sourced from local suppliers.

"This is a chance to do something a bit different and a bit boutique - like bringing back popcorn!"

But the beauty would be in the small touches, she said.

"I want my baristas to know people's names and their orders."

Pat Vinaccia recently attended the 2014 national movie convention at the Embassy Theatre.

It was an opportunity for the industry to talk and see what movies would be coming out in the next 12 to 18 months, he said.

"I'm a newbie to the industry, so speaking to people who have been in the industry for years and hearing their experiences was very valuable," he said.

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