Chunky's Cinema to become Manchester's first movie theater since 2008By PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader
February 23. 2016 4:28PM
MANCHESTER — Hollywood is headed back to the Queen City, with the announcement that Chunky’s Cinema Pub has signed a lease to open a 10-screen theater complex at the vacant Lowe’s site on Huse Road early next year.
The facility will become the first movie theater in Manchester since the Regal 9 Cinema off South Willow Street closed in September 2008. Chunky’s is expected to occupy the building at 707 Huse Road, located just off South Willow Street south of the Mall of New Hampshire, in early 2017.
“We can’t believe Manchester has gone so many years without a movie theater and we’re honored that it’s us who’s putting an end to that,” said Mike Mannetta, marketing director of Chunky’s.
Chunky’s currently has locations in Nashua and Pelham, with a third in Haverhill, Mass.
“I think it’s a great fit for that location,” said Will Craig, Manchester’s director of economic development. “When we talk to people about what they would like to see when they come to the city, the top three answers are always a Christmas Tree Shop, a Starbucks, and a Chunky’s or other movie theater. I think it will fill a real need in the city that people seem to enjoy.”
“It’s great news that we have a business going in to that site,” Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas said. “I would have loved to have a movie theater come in downtown, but we’re happy to have them on Huse Road. “It’s a good location, and the businesses in that area will benefit from this. It’s good to be able to say we are finally going to fill that space.”
According to Mannetta, the Manchester location will feature a 10-screen theater complex, full of “all the things that make Chunky’s the only way to see a movie.”
“We’ll have the reclining chairs, and the full menu with table service,” said Mannetta. “It will also feature beer, wine and specialty cocktails. We’re going to upgrade the facade of the building.”
Admission at Chunky’s three current locations ranges from $7.99 per ticket on Friday through Sunday nights, $6.49 Monday through Thursday evenings, with all matinee shows $5.99; 3D features carry an additional $3 charge per ticket. Children 4 and under are admitted free.
Mannetta said he did not want to speculate what ticket costs may be a year from now, but said the price will be the same at all Chunky’s locations.
Menu items range from soups for $4.99 to an appetizer platter for $18.49, with burgers, nachos, wings, sandwiches, gluten-free items and a variety of entrees and desserts available.
As in other Chunky’s locations, the Manchester site is expected to host live comedy nights, and will be available to host birthday parties and corporate events.
“We bring back the movie ‘Jaws’ every summer, and that will be shown in Manchester as well,” said Mannetta. “We feel the city is a prime spot for these activities.”
At the Mall of New Hampshire on Tuesday, customers were happy to hear the movies were coming back to Manchester.
“I’m excited to hear that,” said Jessica Gagnon of Manchester. “The city hasn’t had a theater since I was a kid. I’ve never been, but I heard Chunky’s is a lot of fun.”
“My kids love the one in Nashua,” said Diana Wilson of Manchester. “This will be a lot closer.”
The single-story Lowe’s store at 707 Huse Road was built in 2010. The Lowe’s lot is 11.75 acres, with a gross building area of 263,722 square feet. The closing of three New Hampshire Lowe’s stores was announced in late 2011 as part of a corporate restructuring that saw 20 stores close nationwide.
The last movie theater in Manchester was opened by Hoyts Cinemas as the Willow Street Cinemas at 1279 S. Willow St. in the late 1990s. Seating was listed at 1,980. The nine-screen cinema fell under the Regal ownership chain in 2003 and became known as the Manchester 9 Cinemas. Regal closed the cinema on Sept. 21, 2008.
Mannetta said he expects the Manchester Chunky’s to employ an estimated 150 people. The company anticipates starting the hiring process later this year.
“Chunky’s is one of those places you take pride in saying you have one where you live,” said Mannetta. “It’s somewhere you want to bring your friends to show off the unique setup where you can enjoy food, drinks and a movie at the same time. We truly believe we are the only way to see a movie, and we hope Manchester agrees. It’s crazy to think the biggest city in the state doesn’t have a movie theater, but we’re going to change that.”