Real estate developer Orrin Day, who has owned the Ramona movie theater on Main Street for six years, stopped showing films two years ago because people weren’t coming. So, he put the 6000-square-foot theater (built in 1946) on the market.
“This building was sucking me dry,” says Day. “I had to do something. I was tired of feeding the monster.”
The theater was dark for a year and a half before Ramona musician August Christman booked it for a multi-band show in April.
“There was no outlet for music in Ramona,” says Christman, who plays bass in jazzy ska band Children of Invention. “There are only three bars up here, and it’s always the same old sleazy people. All they have is classic-rock cover bands or karaoke. In Ramona, people only do Eminem songs or country music for karaoke.”
Day says Christman’s show inspired him to reopen the theater as a showcase for comedy, plays, and music. He says he spent over $1 million on the remodel. On July 25, Cash’d Out played the grand-opening party for what’s now known as the Ramona Mainstage Theatre.
Day says his new business is one of the few establishments in the county licensed to sell beer but no wine; he got that license last month.
“There was a lady who pooh-poohs every alcohol license [application], but she didn’t challenge us. I think she realized this community needs this. It’s not a bar with pool tables; people come here to see performances. This town was just begging for something.”
He says people 18, 19, and 20 can attend shows, but they get a black X on their hand, which labels them as underage; those over 21 get a wristband that allows them to buy beer.
The Agavero Revue plays the Mainstage Theatre on Saturday, August 16 (ramonamainstage.com).