By Samantha Lambert
In 1940, John K. Tringas built the Tringas movie theater on Miracle Strip Parkway in Fort Walton Beach. Owned and operated by the Tringas family, it was the only movie theater around here for decades. Seventy-nine years later, the building still stands. It has seen many changes over the years as various companies took it over, and it even had a brief stint as Apples Disco.
During the 1970s, the building was remodeled, and the sloped floor was changed into leveled areas so that tables and chairs could be put in. A kitchen was added, so patrons could watch a movie and enjoy a meal.
In late 2018, NBI (Nabors Brothers, Inc.) purchased the building from the Tringas family. A major renovation of the building took place—inside and outside—conducted by the owners of the building and the new business owners. The walls of the theater were stripped to reveal the original brick and terra cotta walls. The electrical, plumbing, and HVAC were overhauled, and the front of the building was renovated. The renovation took about nine months.
The new owners of Suds n Cinema are Steve Caldarelli, Rodney and Julie Walker, Tony Giordano, and Matt Robinson. All have been friends since their high school years at Fort Walton Beach’s Choctawhatchee High School in the 1980s. What the friends have created is a combination of Art Deco and Soda Fountain motif.
Comfortable red chairs are set at big round tables throughout the theater and in the balcony section. In the back of the ground level are three booths respectively named the Marilyn Monroe (the Duchess), the James Dean (the Delinquent), and the John Wayne (the Duke). A concession stand is located in the bright black and white floored lobby along with pictures of the theater from the past. The theater is ADA compliant with wheelchair access on the Brooks Street side of the theater.
Suds n Cinema is considered to be a second-run theater. When a new movie has finished its run at a bigger venue, Suds n Cinema acquires the movie before it is released to video. All ticket prices are $5, and a movie is shown every night (seven days a week) at 7 PM. Tickets go on sale at 6:15.
The menu includes traditional movie fare like popcorn and candy, but there’s also pizza, hot dogs, and panini sandwiches. You can wash it down with soda, water, wine, and beer. There are domestic beers as well as offerings from the local Props Brewery. The main parking area is public parking just to the west of the theater, and there is additional parking across the street from the theater.
Suds n Cinema is available for rental for private parties. There is room for 150 seated patrons with available chairs for more. There is a newly constructed stage with power outlets and overhead lighting—perfect for bands, performers and speakers. The theater has a digital projector that offers high-quality definition on a movie-size screen that can be seen clearly from 75 feet away in the balcony area. Private movie showings for kids can be arranged during a child’s birthday party.
“We want this theater to be a gathering place where you can have a friendly night out, and we want people to be comfortable.” says co-owner Rodney Walker. Suds n Cinema is also a way to bring some fun back to downtown F-Dub.
Discover more at www.sudsncinema.com. Text SUDS to 888111 and receive notifications of upcoming showtimes. Suds n Cinema is located in downtown Fort Walton Beach. Call 850-226-SUDS (7837) for more information.