Regal testing beer, egg rolls at concession stands

Tue May 12, 2009 11:11pm IST

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*Wine, beer testing "successful" in certain theaters

*Concession sales, margins holding up

By Gina Keating

LOS ANGELES, May 12 (Reuters) - Would you like a beer with that popcorn?

Movie theatre chain Regal Entertainment Group (RGC.N) is trying out beer and wine at its concession stands in a menu overhaul that will include egg rolls, hot dogs made with Black Angus beef and candy displays within the reach of children's hands.

Popcorn, albeit with fancy seasonings, is still on the menu, but soft drinks now come frozen or on the rocks and in flavors like sour apple, wild cherry and blue raspberry, Chief Purchasing Officer Rob del Moro told company investors on Tuesday.

Beef jerky and Freschetta pizza, whose shelf life makes it an ideal theater menu item, will join the fancy dogs and egg rolls on the menu at some theaters. Markets with large Latino populations will have Delicias Paletas ice cream bars, and others will sell Dibs Ice Cream snacks, he said.

Despite U.S. economic doldrums and new rules that potentially alarming nutritional information must be posted, patrons are still visiting Regal's concession stands as frequently as ever and not complaining about prices, he said.

Regal maintains margins of about 86 percent on its concessions.

But because it is "always looking for revenue growth", Regal is positioning waist-high candy racks in checkout lines, similar to grocery stores. It also plans to send baseball stadium style hawkers into auditoriums.

Wine and beer testing has been "very successful in theaters that fit a certain profile" but the company is struggling in some markets with local laws barring alcohol sales in movie theaters, del Moro said.

Regal tests about a half dozen food items a year, and not all make the cut, del Moro said. Still in the testing phase for the next year, are premium coffees, smart water, pretzel bites and pizza pretzels. (Reporting by Gina Keating in Los Angeles; Editing by Derek Caney)

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