A Word From Variety, the Children’s Charity of Texas

Variety - The Children CharityVariety, The Children’s Charity of Texas has been empowering children with special needs since 1936. It is because of loyal and generous supporters like Studio Movie Grill that Variety continues to further this mission every day. SMG’s compassion and unwavering support for the special needs community is what makes our partnership so strong.

For the past eight years, SMG has provided precious opportunities, at no cost, for Variety kids and their siblings to attend special movie screenings with a sense of peace that they will not be judged. By altering the sound and lighting, children with special needs are able to sit in the audience and just be the amazing kids that they are.  Not only is this a moment for a child with special needs to be offered a moment to live like any other kid, but it is a moment that an entire family can spend together.

Special Needs Children attend a screening of Smurfs 2 at an SMG location.

Studio Movie Grill has seen incredible growth over the past few years, and because of this, the special needs screenings have thrived as well.  SMG is supporting more Variety kids now than ever before!

To everyone at Studio Movie Grill, thank you for making our kids a priority. These special outings mean more than you will ever know.  

Amanda Ernst

Program Director

Variety, The Children’s Charity of Texas



What Women In Film Dallas Has To Say About SMG

For years Studio Movie Grill has opened their theater doors wide for Women in Film. They have been critically important in helping us carry out our mission to promote female filmmakers.  SMG has been a true partner by providing us with a venue to screen movies by women and by helping us to publicize the films we are screening.  Lynne McQuaker also recommends excellent films that we have in turn sponsored or promoted to our contacts. Whenever the public sees great movies by (or even about women), we help advance women in the industry and subsequently everywhere. The percentage of female filmmakers falls far below where it should be and the depictions of women in media are too often disturbing. SMG truly cares about our cause and demonstrates their commitment time and time again.  We are grateful every time, SMG says, “Yes” to another WIF.D screening. Our board, our members, and our guests always feel welcome at any location. We enjoy a good movie with tasty food and beverage – all for a good cause. What could be more fun?! And at every location, the staff is always courteous and accommodating. We treasure our partnership with Studio Movie Grill and look forward to many more years of collaboration. Together we have opened a lot of people’s eyes about what it means to be a woman in film or just a woman in general.
Lisha Brock, President
Women in Film.Dallas


Women in Film.Dallas Mix & Mingle in lobby before screening (Courtesy: Lorie Valle)


Q&A after Women in Film and Television International Showcase. Left to right – Lisha Brock (president of WIF.D), Courtney Ware, and Meredith Burke (Courtesy Michael Schulze)


Q&A after Women in Film and Television International Showcase. Left to right – Lisha Brock (president of WIF.D), Courtney Ware (Courtesy Michael Schulze)



SMG Brings Movie Night to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Egleston

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

Studio Movie Grill has had an ongoing relationship with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and last month, that relationship became even more personal to SMG employees when they hand delivered toys from the Show You Care Bear drive directly to children in the hospital.

Following that outreach event, SMG Holcomb manager, Wayne Simpson recounts an initiative taken on by some staff members eager to keep giving to their community:


Garrett Ivie of Studio Movie Grill Holcomb donned a self-made Iron Man costume for Movie Night at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

“From the contact we made delivering the Teddy Bears last month we were invited back to host a movie day for the young patients.


SMG Supervisor Karen Lopez, Server Sharon Orina, Manager Wayne Simpson, and Iron Man stop to pose for a photo.

One of our team members, Garrett Ivie, who was very creative, had made an Iron Man costume which he wore during our premier.  Birdie and I asked him to come today, as well as our Supervisor Karen Lopez, Server Sharon Orina to host the movie day for the kids.

There were so many stories today from patients we encountered at the hospital.  One young boy about 5 told Iron Man that he was his biggest fan and gave Garrett a big hug.  We encountered another group in the cafeteria having a cake.  Thinking it was their birthday, I brought our Iron Man over to their table.

After getting their pictures taken with Iron Man, one of them asked us to wait and then ran around the corner to the chapel coming back with his 30-40 year old son.  The man introduced us to his son, saying that this [son] was his Iron Man.

After posing with Garrett, the son told us how his son had lost his battle with cancer that morning and how Garrett had cheered him by being there.  So many of the kids ran up to meet him today.  It was amazing to put a smile on so many of those young kids for what has to be a difficult time in their lives.

Iron Man poses with doctors at Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta.

Iron Man poses with doctors at Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta.

I’m a very proud of our team and was humbled to have the privilege of being there as well.

We have made a commitment from our team here at Holcomb to host their movie day once a month.  From our end we are providing little gift baskets for the kids and simply being present to them to greet them and give them the baskets after the movie.  We may do some other costumed characters in the future as it was such a positive experience for the children.”

Iron Man and his two heroes in training

Iron Man and his two heroes in training

Movies and Mixed Drinks!

Earlier this month, for our Brews ‘N’ Views series we screened The Big Lebowski, which I think is one of the funniest movies of my generation, and on a whim we added a secret drink special on the White Russian, which turned out to be a big hit.

I mean, White Russian is a cocktail that almost no one ever orders, so on any regular night I’d be shocked to hear we’d sold any, but on this particular night, we sold 459. So what gives?

In The Big Lebowski, for those who haven’t seen it, the Caucasian cocktail is the drink of choice for our central character, The Dude.  Throughout the movie we see him mix and enjoy the beverage, and then, as one of the key plot points, one of the villains uses the drink as a vehicle to drug him, which leads us into one of the most memorable and ridiculous dream sequences imaginable.  Love it or hate it, you will definitely never forget that scene.

So when we marketed our revival of this 1990s classic, instead of just saying we were showing the movie, we emailed to invite our guests to “Knock back a White Russian with the Dude.”  And a lot of people did just that.Unknown

Seeing the incredible demand for an oddball drink special reminded us:

Mixed drinks, when consumed appropriately, can make the adult movie going experience more fun.  Who wouldn’t want to have a martini shaken but not stirred with James Bond or perhaps a mint julep with Daisy and Gatsby?  Not every movie we love is going to have an adult beverage tie in, but when they do, and we can offer it at SMG, that’s just a little touch of movie magic.

Next Thursday for $1 Classics, we are cooking up a special on a featured beer cocktail called the Arnold Palmer Shandy you can enjoy at Caddyshack.


You can count on me to be on the lookout for the next great movie/cocktail combination to tickle your taste buds.

If you want to be in on the secret specials, sign up for our email newsletters at studiomoviegrill.com.

SMG Wheaton Chef Castano Penn on SMG Chefs for Children


SMG Chef Castano Penn initiated the SMG Chefs for Children program in April, 2013. 5% of the proceeds from Chefs for Children menu items are donated to nonprofits aiding families with special needs children.

Being a chef and feeding others isn’t just about food – for me, it’s also always been a way to nurture people. I can show someone I’m thinking about them by preparing their favorite dish, taking into account an allergy, or preparing a dish for someone who has recently been sick or stressed out.

This perspective is what spurred me to create the SMG Chefs for Children program. Chefs are creative and nurturing folks – what better way to combine the two than this program which allows our chefs to create their own specials all while helping kids in their own communities?

This program is personal to me. My five year old son is autistic. My wife and I are so fortunate that there has been so much more research done in this area and we are grateful for the programs that help our son reach his ultimate potential. Children deserve amazing opportunities and I thought this program could be my small way of saying, “You’re important, we care about you, and we’re going to do what we can to help!”

I’m thrilled that SMG home office was receptive to my idea and I am really happy with the energy with which this program has been greeted! I look forward to more charitable partnering in the future!

Jorie Meyer of WDSRA says…

Western DuPage Special Recreation Association - Equal Fun for Everyone!

Western DuPage Special Recreation Association

What has Studio Movie Grill-Wheaton done for us, you ask?

What have they not done for us!

SMG has supported the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association (WDSRA) since the day they opened. Creating a partnership together to help one another, we are happy to spread       the word about their Special Screenings for people with disabilities. An opportunity where parents can bring their child to a movie without worrying about them being disruptive, pacing the theatre, or laughing out loud at inappropriate times. WDSRA families our thrilled with these opportunities!

In addition, SMG has provided us with complimentary movie tickets for our day programs, day camps, and our Movie Critics and Cinema Cruisers movie programs. Our participants are constantly asking if we can go back to SMG. The atmosphere, the service, they have it all! Thank you SMG for supporting WDSRA, you are truly making a difference in the community!

Jorie A. Meyer, CTRS

The WDSRA Rec & Roll group enjoys an outing to SMG Wheaton.

The WDSRA Rec & Roll group enjoys an outing to SMG Wheaton.

We’re In Absolute Puppy Love with the Pound Puppies On the Big Screen and Off!


Pound Puppies: Mission Adoption Day at SMG Copperfield. Photo supplied by DJ Hochstetler.

Last month with the SMG Toons series showing of Pound Puppies:  Mission Adoption, we were engaged with a sweet story about the Pound Puppies gang on a mission to find the perfect home for every pup, so we felt inspired to invite our local dog rescues to our theaters to help find homes for real life pound puppies.

Little did I know how incredibly powerful that experience would be.  It’s a no brainer – anyone in his or her right mind loves puppies, and if they don’t, then those folks are just plain mean!  So why then are there so many sweet adorable homeless pups out there?

Let’s face it.  Our economy has been through a rough and tumble couple of years and employment hasn’t been what we’d hoped.  Lots of people became upside down on mortgages and lost their houses, which means our nation has seen an influx of people moving into apartments, which were predominantly occupied historically by single people, so the multifamily housing industry was ill equipped to accommodate families, especially those with pets.

When I began contacting rescues to pair them up with theaters for our Mission Adoption event, I was surprised at how incredibly eager they were to take on our theaters as a venue for an adoption day.  If you think about it – most of the time we see rescues camped out in front of pet supply stores, and how effective can that be?  Aren’t most people headed there because they already have a pet?  So bringing puppies to SMG was an exciting prospect.

So exciting that once my campaign to find rescues to partner with us for Mission Adoption their demand exceeded our supply of space for them to use!  SMG Scottsdale took their Mission Adoption Day and turned it into an Adoption Weekend so that they could accommodate three dog rescues.

As the organizer of the event, I traveled to a few different SMG locations to see how things were going, and got to meet some pretty amazing people and puppies.


This puppy, Iggy, only fourteen weeks old was part of Ginny’s litter saved from her potential euthenization at the shelter where Stephen found her.

At SMG Royal, Stephen Foster from Furgotten Friends had brought in a dachshund named Ginny that had recently given birth and one of her pups.  Stephen had rescued Ginny from the pound before she had her litter, because pregnant females are often the first dogs that get euthanized in public shelters.  If they give birth in the shelter, the newborn puppies are not strong enough to survive long enough to get the vaccinations and medicines they would need live in that environment, and the mother’s weakened immune system after giving birth can make it dangerous for her as well.


An SMG employee plays with Sadie while she recovers from hip surgery. Funds raised at this event will help pay for her second hip surgery.

We also met a dog named Sadie who had just had surgery to correct hip dysplasia, a common ailment in puppies bred in puppy mills that causes their hip bones to be malformed, and therefore walking and standing is painful.  I learned that this is the result of unscrupulous breeders cranking out hordes of puppies to supply pet shops, breeding the same dogs so closely together that they become inbred and have poor genetics and all kinds of health issues.

As SMG Royal, Stephen found homes for 3 dogs, and possible parents for two more, and was able to collect a nice sum of money toward Sadie’s final surgery.


Staked out at SMG Plano for Pound Puppies: Mission Adoption, Texas Little Cuties brought tons of pups in need of new homes.

At SMG Plano, we played host to Texas Little Cuties, a rescue run by our own Executive Chef, Thad Kelley and his wife Melissa.  Melissa told me that she and Thad are currently fostering 78 dogs at their home!

At SMG, Lewisville, I met the folks from A Different Breed and they had brought several small dogs in that needed homes.  The shelter was so happy to work with SMG that they had driven from two and a half hours outside the city to come show their pups that day.


At SMG Lewisville, a young patron gives some love to sweet puppy Toby, who is recovering nicely from surgery to rebuild his mouth after he was found electrocuted from chewing on a live electrical wire.

And, as many rescues do, they had another sweet puppy in need of surgery.  A tiny three lb. dog named Toby had been abandoned by his owners after he had chewed on an electrical wire and gotten stuck to it.  The shock had severely burned one side of his mouth and blown out some of his teeth, but A Different Breed had gotten him two surgeries to restore his face and he was almost ready to move on to a new home.

I only made it to four theaters that day, but I was so proud of the fact that SMG had 10 out of our 12 theaters participating in this event, because I know that there were so many sweet puppies out there in need of homes, food and supplies and I am so thankful we were able to help these organizations that take care of them.

For more photos and details on the event you can check out our Pound Puppies:  Mission Adoption Report.