Grove Theater opens in Pasco County with creative use of space

As cities and suburbs across America look to repurpose abandoned shopping malls, architects and developers are coming up with creative new designs and uses for existing spaces.

One local example? The Grove Theater, Bistro and Entertainment opened in mid-February in the heart of Wesley Chapel, about 30 minutes north of downtown Tampa on I-75 -- with much more to come. 

The two-story, 85,000-square-foot entertainment hub features 12 themed theaters, playing all new releases, an upscale bistro restaurant, a sushi bar, a cycle cinema, a Side Splitters comedy club, a massive arcade, kids play place, and an acting studio. 

The vision for the space came from developer and landlord Mark Gold and Mishorim Gold Properties.

“They purchased all 250 acres in September 2019 for around $65 million. This includes existing big box stores like Best Buy and Ross,” says Matheus Gold, VP of Operations for Grove Theater, Bistro and Entertainment. “Mark has wanted to create a ‘downtown’ area to serve as a hub for Wesley Chapel residents.”

Once a Cobb Theater and Cinebistro, MGold Properties renovated the space to create an open complex lobby and an updated dining space with an all new color scheme. “It’s a modern, clean look with an upscale vibe,” Gold says.

The hub will be open Fridays through Sundays from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. You can plan your visit by reserving tickets on the Grove Theater website. Cycle Cinema, Side Splitters, and the Acting Studio will open soon. The comedy club is the second location to open and will host nationally touring comedians with top performers from around the country. Sushi rolled on-site is provided by a local sushi chef who owns a number of Japanese hibachi and sushi restaurants throughout the Tampa Bay Area. 

“On a typical Friday evening at the theater, they [guests] can enjoy sushi or popular favorites like steak, mushroom risotto, and chicken parmesan from our upscale bistro, watch a movie in our VIP area (21+) and order in-movie dining,” Gold says, all while lounging back in their reclining chairs. Additionally, visitors can sit for a drink at the full bar and check out the arcade with over 40 games. 

“We call it the movie theater of the future because there is nothing like it in the country,” Gold says. With their tremendous amount of available activities, everyone of all ages can find something to do. From spin classes led by an instructor while you virtually travel through the Swiss Alps, or other journeys on the digitally created world, to one of the Acting Studio’s classes or plays and shows provided, entertainment choices abound. 

In terms of staying safe in the midst of the pandemic, the theater features automatic temperature checks at the entrance, UV light sanitation technology, fog machines to disinfect theaters between showings, hand sanitizer stations throughout, required face coverings, and limited capacity with movie seats assigned in a checkerboard style.  

MGold Properties, based in Wesley Chapel, Florida is known for bringing old shopping centers back to life, revitalizing neighborhoods, and transforming communities through their millions of square feet of real estate in North America. 

The Grove is located on the west side of I-75, in Pasco County, north of State Road 54.

For more information on details of all available services and to reserve tickets visit The Grove Theater website

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Read more articles by Lauren Wong.

Lauren Wong is a graduate of the University of Tampa with a degree in journalism who is freelancing while she looks for a full-time job. Originally from the Chicago area, she enjoys travel and aspires to be a travel photojournalist. During the summer of 2019, she worked for Premier Travel Media in Chicago and as a correspondent for Input Fort Wayne, another Issue Media group online magazine based in Indiana. She loves spending time outdoors camping, kayaking, and taking pictures.