Four Operators Want To Take Over Cerrito Speakeasy Theater

Four operators want to take over Cerrito Speakeasy Theater
By Chris Treadway
West County Times
Posted: 06/04/2009 02:46:49 PM PDT
Updated: 06/04/2009 04:16:38 PM PDT
Four potential operators are interested in taking over the darkened Cerrito Speakeasy Theater.

The city of El Cerrito said this week that the four candidates have until Monday to submit proposals for operating the movie house, which is owned by the city.

The theater and its marquee have been dark since May 18, when previous operators Catherine and Kyle Fischer ceased operations. The El Cerrito Redevelopment Agency, acting under the terms of its lease, officially confirmed Tuesday that the couple, doing business as Downey Street Productions, had terminated the agreement and abandoned the theater.

The Fischers and the city were unable to settle on a renegotiated lease for the theater, nor was the city willing to offer financial assistance to keep the Cerrito open after the couple fell more than a year behind in making their monthly lease payment.

Representatives of the El Cerrito Redevelopment Agency are inspecting the building and its fixtures and will arrange for any cleaning or repairs that might be needed.

The city early last month appropriated $100,000 to acquire equipment owned by Downey Street Productions at the theater. The acquisition is “contingent on Agency Board approval and on Downey Street Productions obtaining a dismissal of the Agency and the City from litigation with BBI Construction, Downey Street’s contractor, to which the Agency and the City are parties.”

According to the city, the agency hopes to recommend a new operator June 15 and bring a lease agreement to the agency board – made up of the City Council – on June 29.