Studio 35 is a place that’s near and dear to my heart. I’d rank it up there with one of my favorite places in Columbus. In addition to featuring three things I love – pizza, beer, and movies – it’s also a beloved neighborhood hangout that’s been an important part of the city’s cultural scene since 1938.
The movie theatre known as Studio 35 opened as the Indianola Theatre in the late 30s. It changed hands, names, and existed in various states over the years until the current owners Eric and Rita purchased it and have continued to update it.
We lived just down the street from the theatre for a decade, dangerously within walking distance, but even before we landed in the neighborhood, Studio 35 had already become a beloved hangout.
The first movie I ever saw at Studio 35 was the Grindhouse double feature of Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof and Robert Rodriquez’s Planet Terror in 2007, and I have to say – I think it was the perfect introduction. Tarantino and Rodriquez were trying to capture the B-movie horror shows of the 70s, and at that time, prior to major renovations in 2012, Studio 35 had an old school… charm… to it.
Anyone who’s been a long-time attendee will remember those days: A tiny lobby with swinging saloon doors into the theatre. A bar with snacks and six beers on tap. Slightly sticky floors. Iffy sound quality. No insulation between the theatre and the lobby, so you could sit outside and hear the whole feature clear as day.
Maybe this doesn’t paint the prettiest picture, but the theatre was truly endearing in that state. There was a clear history to the place, it was loved by the community, and on top of showing first-run features, they hosted long-running events like Rocky Horror Picture Show sing-alongs, Fritz the Night Owl shows, beer tastings, and more.
And with the first big renovations in 2012, the place just got better. Studio 35 went from my favorite place to see a movie to my favorite place to get a beer. There were times when we’d head over there just to get drinks.
In addition to a modernization of the theatre itself – upgraded sound, new walls, seating, better lighting, proper sound-proofing – they renovated the lobby, expanding it to include a square bar in the center, more seating, an expanded cocktail menu, and now 40 beers on tap. It truly did become the neighborhood bar.
The additional taps, which rotate frequently, is a dream for this beer-lover. They feature a lot of Ohio beers and often snag some great specialties for their monthly beer tastings.
Over the years I’ve tasted a lot of great beer at Studio 35. Usually my biggest hold-up at the counter is trying to decide what to drink. The menu is helpfully divided by styles: IPAs and pales, lagers and Pilsners, wheats and Belgians, stouts and porters, ciders, etc.
But you can’t beat the simple pleasure of a beer and a movie.
They have a lot of fun with cocktails, too, usually crafting a few specialties inspired by the latest features. Plus they do specialty nights like Tiki Tuesdays.
The theatre underwent a second round of renovations in 2019, and things got even better. First, they renovated part of the upstairs (lowering the ceiling in the lobby below) into a second 28-seat theatre with comfy seats, great sound, small tables for your food and drinks.
Outside the new theatre is more seating, even a small balcony out the front.
The second addition was their own in-house pizza shop Fibonacci’s Pizzeria. Back in the day you could order pizzas, subs, mozzarella sticks through Studio 35, and they would call in the order to Pizza Primo a few doors down. When your food was done, Primo would run it over to the theatre and you’d retrieve it from the counter.
Now they whip up the pizzas from the kitchen on the second floor, just outside the upstairs theatre. It’s become standard for us to order a pizza to go with the movie, and we’ve enjoyed every pie we’ve tried, from standards like pepperoni and cheese to the BBQ chicken to the Camorra to the seasonal specialties. The crust has a great texture, they use lots of local toppings like Ezzo Sausage.
You can even order from Fibonacci’s like normal pizzeria – you don’t have to be seeing a movie!
We’ve seen a lot of movies at Studio 35 over the years, from pretty much all the new Star Wars films to the Marvel franchise to indie hits, summer kid’s movies, and everything in-between. There’s also the sellout Lebowski Fest (“Mark it eight, Dude.”).
My favorite experience at the movies ever was opening night of The Force Awakens at Studio 35 – Thursday, December 17, 2015. You just couldn’t beat the energy and excitement of it: good beer, great company, the thrill of the first new Star Wars movie in 10 years. The place was packed, and was truly one of those communal experiences, where everyone’s laughing and gasping and taking the same ride together. Unforgettable. (I snapped the above photo just after the showing as everyone spilled out into streets afterwards.)
Never been? Now’s the time to go. Support your local cinema. Kick back, grab a beer, order a pizza, and enjoy a night at the movies!
Bonus: don’t forget they also own the Grandview Theater & Drafthouse!