The Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, which opens tomorrow, will feature a ride purchased from Michael Jackson's infamous Neverland Ranch amusement park.
Things are looking up for the pair of East Bay movie houses vacated by Speakeasy Theaters over the last few months. Last week, news of a potential Parkway operator; this week, movement on the Cerrito front. The city's Redevelopment Agency has put out a call for proposals to operate the Cerrito Theater. "The solicitation was sent to seven independent operators, mostly local," reports the city's press release, "and several have already expressed interest in both the theater and restaurant operations." The Agency staff expects at least two proposals to be submitted, and - proving it's wasting no time here - hopes to release its decision on June 15 and approve a new lease agreement on June 29. That would put a new operator in place as early as July. You gotta admire that bureaucratic tenacity, and if El Cerrito can pull this off it's bound to beat Oakland and the Parkway to the punch.
A community meeting addressing the future of Oakland's Parkway Speakeasy Theater (provided, of course, there is a future -- at the moment, it's looking likely) will take place this Sunday, May 31, at 3 p.m. at nearby Rooz Cafe (1918 Park Blvd.). Hosted by advocacy group I Like the Parkway, the meeting will likely center on recent news that a Midwest-based group of investors has submitted a proposal to assume operatorship of the theater. In a post on her Oaklander Online blog, Patsy Eagan details what's going down. Here are the juicy bits: Organizers, business owners and Oakland residents will gather at 3 p.m. to take input from the community on what it wants in a new venue. Even if the deal with Motion Picture Heritage doesn't work out, the group is moving forward with an investor package that will distill the desires of future patrons and will help Peter Prato and the I Like the Parkway volunteers determine whether to endorse investor proposals. For serious Parkway fans, it sounds like something worth attending.
A group of investors based in the Midwest has submitted an offer to take over Oakland's Parkway Speakeasy Theater, reported the Chronicle this morning. Motion Picture Heritage, the Indiana-based umbrella group to which the new investors belong, is dedicated to preserving independent community movie houses, at this point primarily in the Midwest. "The hopes and aspirations of Americana are not found in multiplexes," Motion Picture Heritage manager Bill Dever told the Chron. "It's found in places like the Parkway." The connection between the Parkway and MPH was sparked by longtime Parkway programmer Will Viharo and fostered by Oakland City Councilwoman Pat Kernighan. "We're all wanting the same thing here - to reopen the theater," she said. "So now we're down to talking brass tacks." The biggest impediment to the Parkway becoming the MPH's first West Coast theater? A long list of necessary repairs, including plumbing and electrical overhauls -- and neither the current landlords nor the new investors are flush with funds to throw in that direction. If the deal goes through, only one question remains: will they still sell pizza and beer?
In an email sent out just minutes ago, owners Kyle and Catherine Fischer confirmed what many fans and followers of the former two-theater chain saw looming on the horizon: Speakeasy Theaters is no more. Last Friday, with the announced "temporary" closure of the Cerrito theater (exactly two months after the March 22 shuttering of the Parkway in Oakland, in case you're counting), we predicted this news would soon arrive -- though perhaps not this soon. No public announcement as to the future of either theater has yet been made, but it seems likely that new owners will step in at some point (post-recession, perhaps?) to continue to maintain and operate these fine community theaters. Read the Fischers' warmhearted farewell below, including bits about a shrink and long walks on the beach.
After a series of public announcements over the last eight days -- including Speakeasy Theaters' offer to pull out of the Cerrito Theater and aid in the search for a new operator, followed by an El Cerrito City Council meeting earlier this week designed to give members of the public an opportunity to weigh in on the theater's future -- the worst has happened. Well, almost. But it doesn't look good. Following the city council meeting, theater owners Kyle and Catherine Fischer announced via email that the Cerrito would be temporarily closing from May 20-28. But here we are on the 22nd, and that plan seems to have already been scrapped. The Cerrito Speakeasy Theater website now reads: "Dear Speakeasy Patrons: The Cerrito Theater is Closed Until Further Notice." As far as we can tell, Speakeasy Theaters looks to be done in the East Bay. Let's just hope another operator (or two) steps up to save both the Parkway and the Cerrito -- and hopefully retain some of the business practices that made the Parkway such a beloved Oakland institution.
We weren't at the El Cerrito City Council meeting last night, but the result can't have been good: just a few minutes ago, Kyle and Catherine Fischer, owners of Speakeasy Theaters, announced the Cerrito is now temporarily closed. What does temporary mean? Perhaps no one knows for sure, but at the very least the theater won't be open this week, from May 20 through May 28. Stay posted for more announcements.
As we reported last week, an El Cerrito City Council meeting will be held tonight to address serious financial problems faced by the Cerrito Speakeasy Theater. It'll also provide an opportunity for public input prior to a projected change of theater operator. (According to an email announcement last week, Speakeasy Theaters has already offered to pull out and aid in the search for a new operator.) Those wishing to attend the meeting at 10890 San Pablo Ave. must arrive by 6:30 p.m.; those wishing to speak must arrive by 6:15 and sign up. The theater's woes will be the first order of business. For more information, see the meeting agenda here.
Just like Oakland institution and sister theater the Parkway Speakeasy before it, the Cerrito Speakeasy may be facing closure, or at the very least a new operator. Responding to criticism that they did not offer adequate (read: any whatsoever) public notice before closing the Parkway in March, Speakeasy Theaters has just announced an El Cerrito City Council meeting that will directly address the fate of the Cerrito Speakeasy Theater. Owners Kyle and Catherine Fischer noted in the announcement that "Speakeasy Theaters has been experiencing extreme financial difficulty since opening the Cerrito Theater," which contributed to the closing of the Parkway. The Cerrito could be headed down the same path. "Speakeasy Theaters has already agreed to leave as operators," the email continues, "and we have offered to locate and train a new operator." But that's not all: due to immediate financial hardships, the theater will no longer be open on Mondays and Tuesdays. The city council meeting takes place Monday, May 18th at 10890 San Pablo Ave. at 7:30 p.m. "If any of this is of interest to you, I suggest that you attend the meeting," the Fischers conclude. Expect a packed house.
Need to freshen up your walls? Want to support local artists on the cheap? Check out SFMOMA's massive Warehouse Event, which starts today and runs through the weekend. Peruse the works of more than three hundred local artists. Prices range from $50 to $5,000, with discounts up to 50 percent off.
When: Wednesday, May 6-10
Where: SFMOMA Artists Gallery, Building A, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco