If another night on the couch sounds like a chore, Last Place on Earth (531 Graham Ave.), an entertainment cafe, has something different to offer. Owner Whitney Galaher is offering private screenings in the cafe’s back room, with extensive Covid precautions in place. The screenings, which accommodate up to 8 people, began in early February and booking is open for March. The shop is open Tuesday through Sunday.
The shop’s movie room, which fits 35 people in ordinary times, has also been used as a board game room during the day. Groups can book time to play with the shop’s extensive board game selection, with options for all ages. The movie offering came about as Galaher, “Came to a point where I was like, I miss watching movies. I’ve had this projector in my closet for about a year. I put it on for myself one day and decided to rearrange the room.”
Galaher announced the option on Instagram to much enthusiasm. She told Greenpointers how it works: “I only have one group per day, and I clean up afterwards and then I double clean in the morning. I close up shop depending on what time they arrive, I close off everything. I’m by my counter, so they’ve got the room exclusively to themselves.” Many groups have been couples who live together or small groups of friends who keep their masks on in the room. It’s $50 to reserve the room, with $25 due in advance, and the rest due the day of the screening. Galaher and her mother have no other employees and are able to keep distance from the movie viewing group.
In a nod to movie theater concessions, Last Place on Earth sells chips, candy and cookies. Guests can also bring their own food and drinks or order takeout. Before February 12th, Galaher had a few small groups to “test the surround sound, how the picture looked and get feedback.” Now, she’s filling up her calendar. To reserve a night, “You can book through the DMs, the quickest way to contact me, or you can give a ring to the store phone between 9 am and 7pm.”
What’s playing on the screen is up to you. Galaher posts each month’s set list, which consists of 30-40 movies, on Instagram and guests choose from that. She has a wide range of options and finds guests gravitating to movies they haven’t seen before. The March list includes cult classics like The Royal Tenenbaums and as well as newer movies like Pixar’s Soul. Weekend dates are booked quickly, while many weeknight slots are still available.
Operating a mini movie theater was not what Galaher expected when she and her mother opened Last Place on Earth on March 15, 2020, i.e. the day before lockdown. As businesses shut down, Galaher called 311 to see if she was able to stay open as long as she sold food to go(she carries pastries from Ceci-Cela in Manhattan). She was able to stay open and said it felt like “The last place on earth open in Greenpoint. I carry board games and everyone came rushing to me at the time.”
Originally, Last Place on Earth was going to include movies, trivia and stand up, but “with Covid happening so suddenly, I really had to readjust everything and decide what I could do and what had to be on pause.” It was a challenge as a new business, but games kept them afloat, especially during the holiday season. Galaher wants to be a resource for finding games “I do really want people to know we are primarily a board game cafe. I can also help people purchase certain board games if you don’t want to purchase from Amazon.”
Looking ahead, Galaher wants the shop to be a gathering space. “When things are more accessible and people can mix and mingle rather than just having a set group of people who have quarantined together. I want to do bingo nights, and stand up comedy, and I have a backyard and I want to use it for musicians in the summertime. I want to build, it’s not just the movies, I’ll be adjusting throughout the year.”