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Arts & Culture

Santikos Opens Newly Renovated Embassy, Announces $500K Surprise Gift To Nonprofits

Theater chain and social enterprise Santikos Entertainment on Thursday unveiled their newly remodeled Embassy Theater at 281 & Bitters in San Antonio, and surprised the local non-profit community with 25 gifts totaling $500,000.

The renovations, which took half a year to complete, are immediately apparent as you walk up to the theater, with a bold new font for the marquee. “Walk of Fame” styled stars touting the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation’s eight areas of focus line the pavement, and are echoed on the floor of the lobby, which also sports chandeliers and decorative patterns on the ceiling that echo the old Palace Theater (once owned by the Santikos family) that used to be on Houston Street in downtown San Antonio. To the left, a handsome bar is watched over by portraits of Marlon Brando, James Dean, and Bette Davis. To the right, and elsewhere in the theater, movie memorabilia, both genuine articles and replicas, are on display.

Credit Nathan Cone / TPR
Eight stars highlight areas of charitable giving.

The theaters themselves seat fewer people than they did before, but for good reason. All auditoriums now feature fancy reclining seats. Marketing Manager Daniel Rodriguez told me they tried out 40 different recliner styles before finally settling on a company based in Portugal (!) that custom-manufactured the seats at the new Embassy. All screens feature the same laser projection technology that was recently installed at the Santikos Casa Blanca.

Dining options are a step up from pizza and hot dogs. The menu includes flatbreads, cheese and fruit trays, and sides like tempura green beans. If you want a cheeseburger it’ll set you back $11, but you can feel better knowing the proceeds go to a good cause. Popcorn and candy are of course available, too.

Credit Nathan Cone / TPR
Extra cast costume from 'The Shawshank Redemption.'

Speaking at the grand opening, San Antonio Area Foundation CEO Dennis Noll noted that in the nearly two years since John Santikos passed away, the Area Foundation has already gifted or committed to give $25 million dollars to charities and non-profits. Noll also announced an end-of-2016 “Christmas gift” of $500,000 to charities including Ballet San Antonio, The Salvation Army, Alamo Area Rape Crisis Center, KLRN-TV, Roy Maas Youth Alternatives, and twenty other organizations.