Coyote Drive-in: first impression

Posted 9:00am on Sunday, May. 12, 2013

Before Coyote Drive-In’s official May 9 opening, organizers of the drive-in -- Fort Worth’s first in some two decades -- held a “pre-opening” week, screening such classic movies as Jaws and Grease.

Perhaps they should have screened Field of Dreams. Because when they built this thing, people came.

Maybe it’s just opening-weekend curiosity, but the drive-in was pretty packed Saturday night, when I dropped by to check out a screening of Iron Man 3, which is on screen 1, the one with a view of downtown Fort Worth in the background (the other screens were showing The Great Gatsby and Oblivion; each movie is paired with a second feature, among them 42 and Oz the Great and Powerful).

Tip: It’s a good idea to arrive early. Very early. My car was in line at 7:35, about an hour before the movies started (about 20 minutes after official sunset time), and it took about 10 minutes to get inside the gates, even with cars lined up four abreast and staff moving them efficiently along.

Once I got in and found a spot, I headed toward the Canteen, the drive-in’s concession stand -- which was mobbed. The stand has a patio area that reminded me of the patio at Woodshed Smokehouse, except the Woodshed doesn’t have retro metallic lawn chairs at all the tables. Several people brought dogs (the drive-in is dog-friendly as long as they’re on a leash) and children played in the lawn area and scrambled around a playground.

The concession stand itself had a throng at every station, with people walking away with carloads of food and drinks. Beer, including some imports, and a small selection of wines are available. Most of the food runs along traditional movie-theater lines, although there are such twists as hummus and Mexican street corn. Not everything is available yet; the menu has about a half-dozen pizzas but about half of them are “coming soon.”

As far as the movies go, another tip: It’s a good idea to park closer to the screen if you can. I was near the back, and although the size of the picture was OK, I did want something bigger. The FM sound, however, was impressive, even on the factory-installed stereo in my 10-year-old car. More than a few people had better equipment than that; I could hear the sound just fine when I was out of the car.

And out of the car is how many people chose to watch, from pickup beds or camp-chair spreads that gave the drive-in a Fourth of July atmosphere. It’ll be interesting to see how weekends go once the novelty wears off, but right now, the Coyote looks like a (must ... resist ... saying “howling”) success.

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