El Cerrito Speakeasy to Close Indefinately

Another favorite spot, closed…

By Shelly Meron
West County Times
Posted: 05/19/2009 01:58:38 PM PDT
Updated: 05/19/2009 02:00:07 PM PDT
EL CERRITO – The Cerrito Speakeasy Theater is closed indefinitely, with the operators saying they have run out of cash for movies, food and payroll.

“We don’t have any money to go forward,” said Catherine Fischer, who has been operating the theater with her husband, Kyle. “Unless people want to donate food, movies and work, there’s nothing we can do.”

Fischer said she and her husband have told city officials for months they need financial help and have tried to renegotiate their lease. City officials previously said they did not receive sufficient information from the Fischers, and communication was lacking. The city’s redevelopment agency voted earlier this month to terminate the lease and find a new operator.

The trouble began about 18 months ago, when the Fischers became unable to pay their $10,000 monthly rent. They said the bad economy, unexpected constructions costs, inability to get first-run movies when the theater first opened and the Hollywood writers’ strike all contributed to the financial problems.