Rochester’s only microcinema, Gray Duck Theater & Coffeehouse, is set to open its doors this Friday. Theater owner Andy Smith hopes the business will help to build and support a vibrant film community in Rochester while retaining a distinctly Minnesotan vibe.
A Los Angeles native, Smith has a strong love for film, the film production industry, and spaces that build community around film. A former teacher, he had never launched his own business before but had always enjoyed starting something new and creating. Driven by this passion, Smith and his wife Anna developed the concept for a new microcinema business with their sights set on the upper Midwest. After looking at multiple locations and communities, Smith responded to a property listing by local commercial real estate agent Bucky Beeman and quickly narrowed his search to Rochester.
Smith said Beeman was instrumental in not only finding the eventual end location for Gray Duck, he also introduced the couple to many local small business owners to begin their relationship building process.
Gray Duck Theater & Coffeehouse, located at 619 6th Avenue Northwest, will be smaller than your typical cinema, seating about sixty-six people.
“But we like that and it will build community, build intimacy, while not sacrificing any of the excellence that you’re used to in a move theater,” Smith explained.
Gray Duck aims to showcase a “well rounded film diet” Smith said, including independent films, documentaries, large budget films, and the classics.
“We’re going to show excellent movies here. But we also just love movies,” he explained.
In addition to films, Gray Duck will offer a full-service coffee shop at the location in partnership with Fiddlehead Coffee. Movies will show Friday through Sunday. The coffee shop will be open all week, including outside of movie showtimes.
Regular movie tickets at Gray Duck will run for $8. Theater patrons can also purchase a “Flying V” subscription membership for $20 per month to attend an unlimited number of regular movie showings at no additional cost. The Gray Duck venue will also be available to rent for private showings or events outside of the regular movie showtimes.
While Smith developed his love for film in LA, he wants Gray Duck to be authentic to this region.
“We’re very purposefully being local and Minnesota centric,” he explained.
All of the concessions offered at the business will be locally sourced, from coffee to popcorn. Smith additionally hopes to build out a nonprofit arm of Gray Duck to help empower local film makers and to support a vibrant local film culture.
“We’re just excited to be here and we really want to build a really strong community,” he explained.
Gray Duck will host its grand opening party this Friday night showing the 1925 Charlie Chaplin silent film The Gold Rush. Tickets are on sale for $75 a piece for this formal red-carpet event, which includes live musical accompaniment.
Gray Duck’s complete movie showing schedule for May is currently available on their website.
Thanks to The Commission for hosting a “Sneak Peak” last Thursday of this new-to-Rochester business!