March 02, 2008
'Manhattan's only (and quite possibly the world's smallest) drive-in cinema'
That's how Victoria De Silverio described the 250-square-foot DRV-IN (above), located at 139 Norfolk Street (near Rivington), in her story in today's New York Times; the piece follows.
- A Carload at a Time
As he stepped into the small storefront on Norfolk Street, Stephen Kushner, a hairdresser from Long Island, was transported to a youth spent steaming up car windows with his steady at drive-in theaters.
A movie screen hung in front of a single blue 1965 Ford Falcon convertible. A romantic starry sky — actually tiny light clusters peeking through sheer black fabric — stretched across to the side.
“Hey, can we make out?” he asked aloud, eliciting a giggle from Mr. Kushner’s wife and a gag from their 18-year-old daughter.
Stuffed inside the 250-square-foot space is DRV-IN, Manhattan’s only (and quite possibly the world’s smallest) drive-in cinema. The vintage Ford, parked in front of a 102-inch screen, has a shiny red interior that seats up to six cinephiles.
The setup inspires amorous instincts, but also confusion: Jordan Broadworth, the theater’s “projectionist” and usher, said that a patron once called, worrying that “we just realized none of us have our licenses.”
DRV-IN’s owners, the brothers Hall and Ben Smyth, run a design firm called Grand Opening out of an office behind the screen.
To entertain themselves (and to help pay the rent), they have opened a series of temporary businesses in the space, each with a different theme. First was Barn for Sale, which sold salvaged wood; next came Pong, a table tennis parlor. DRV-IN has been open since September, and a permanent home for it is being sought nearby.
To see a movie, patrons can visit 139norfolk.com, select a show time and a title, and pay $75. Sometimes the roster of movies is predetermined — in February 102 high school movies from 1950 onward were shown — but any film may be requested as long as there is time to buy it on DVD. The Kushners chose the 2007 remake of “Hairspray,” fittingly set in the heyday of the drive-in. (“John Travolta is not an attractive woman,” Mr. Kushner said.)
Settling into the car’s two bench seats (“Bucket seats killed the drive-in,” Mr. Broadworth said), the Kushner family nibbled on fresh popcorn. They discovered the idyllic “Happy Days”-like setting allowed for more than just making out. “You can chitchat without bothering anyone,” Grandma Kushner said. The Fonz would surely approve.
Before you go:
Dress code: As casual or formal as desired. Pets and babies welcome.
Getting in: Reservations for up to six people can be made at 139norfolk.com.
Signature concession: Fresh popcorn. For beverages, there are bodegas nearby.
March 2, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink
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