Cine Tonalá on opening night, maybe reminiscent of your grandparents' — but not your parents' — Tijuana scene
  • Cine Tonalá on opening night, maybe reminiscent of your grandparents' — but not your parents' — Tijuana scene
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Avenida Revolución is seeing a lot of changes. The most emblematic street in downtown Tijuana, known as La Revu, has had something different opening up almost each week this year. Mexican curio shops lose ground as restaurants, bars, cafés, hotels, and other larger businesses move in to previously semi-abandoned spaces.

In late September, a new residential building by Bustamante Realty Group was unveiled. The nine-story structure features all the modern amenities, exposed brick and concrete, and large balconies. Bustamante Group is also demolishing a building on 4th Street known as “Importaciones Sara” to build a similar high-end exposed brick building.

Bus station project on 2nd

Bus station project on 2nd

Near the beginning of La Revu, the local government has been building a terminal that expands two blocks for future rapid-transit bus service. Two other bus platforms are being placed: one between 2nd and 3rd streets and the other between 7th and 8th.

On October 15th, three new businesses between 6th and 7th had their grand openings: Cine Tonalá, Lúdica and Teorema Tasting Room, and Las Micheladas.

Reminiscent of the past, Las Micheladas' business plan seems to be one of luring tourists with cheap beer and loud music. Other similar bars have recently opened on Revolución: Drinks Mixology Bar and Los Tarros. With beers selling for less than a dollar, the establishments are hard to resist for many locals and tourists.

Lúdica and Teorema Tasting Room is a co-venture between two breweries. Lúdica already has a tap room in Plaza Fiesta, but this is a first for Teorema, which has been brewing beer on Revolución for more than a couple of years. This is the first brewery to open on La Revu, besides Mécanica Cervecera, which only opens for private tours.

“It is a major gamble to [invest] anything and anywhere in Mexico.... It is a risky bet,” says Juan Pablo Bastarrachea, one of the three founders of Cine Tonalá. “La Revolución is a street with a number of different elements, both sound and visual — it is insanity. It’s like when you know you are going to have a neighbor, you just don’t know who it’s going to be.”

Cine Tonalá is situated south of the old Mexicoach bus station, which was demolished last year to make way for a larger as-yet-unknown investment. This is Tonalá’s third location; their first opened in Mexico City five years ago, the other opened a couple of years ago in Bogotá, Colombia.

Framed portraits of Mexican and American presidents on the walls of Cine Tonalá

Framed portraits of Mexican and American presidents on the walls of Cine Tonalá

Cine Tonalá's Tijuana location occupies what used to be an abandoned warehouse. Old brick walls and upcoming movie posters decorate the first floor. Mounted up high by the mid-section of the building, a famous picture by Cristian Franco of people playing volleyball on the border wall; to its side, framed portraits of Mexican and American presidents.

“La Revolución has always been that, — there’s [art] galleries next to teibols [strip clubs],” says Adriana Trujillo, one of the creative directors of Cine Tonalá. “Cine Tonalá is not only a movie theater, it’s a cultural center, focused on scenic and gastronomic arts.”

The three-story building features two cinema rooms, one inside and one outside. The rooftop restaurant and bar offers south views of La Revu. Besides showcasing documentaries, independent, and local films, the locale plans to host concerts, theater, stand-up comedy, and more.

As of now, Cine Tonalá does not have a neighbor to their north, just the ghost of an emblematic bus station that had a stained-glass dome surrounded by a never-ending nightlife.

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