The owner of the Granada Theater said he plans to renovate the facility and once again show movies, perhaps classics, at the venue.
Granada owner Andrew Barragan said once the San Benito Stage Company is done using the theater — the lease expires at the end of February and will not be renewed — the property will undergo renovations. He hopes to start showing movies by next summer, or the 2019 holidays if San Benito Stage Company stays through the lease’s entirety. The stage company has used Granada since 2007 when a prior theater owner stopped showing films there.
“To be honest with you, I’m thinking of bringing back a little theater to show some movies like it used to be a theater back in the day, to show movies for the community here in town,” Barragan said Friday.
He said he envisions kids’ matinee weekends and “something for senior crowd” such as older movies. He said he could see such a theater playing “old classics.” He would like a place for people to enjoy a nice movie and concessions at a bargain price, he said.
“Come and enjoy a nice movie, popcorn and a hot dog for five bucks, or something like that,” he said. “That’s my plan. That’s what I want to do.”
Those long-term plans conflicted with the stage company’s scheduling needs such as rehearsals and auditions to go with regular shows. So he knew he had to “shut it down” for several months.
“I hate the fact that the San Benito Stage Company has to leave, but it’s going to work out in the long run,” said Barragan, a longtime youth sports coach in the area and now head coach for the San Benito High School softball team.
Stage Company Vice President Derek Barnes on Thursday, a day before the opening of “My Fair Lady” at the Granada, said the organization planned to become mobile in 2019 with shows at places like the Veterans Memorial Building, San Benito High School and Sacred Heart.
“We’re very appreciative of the three venues,” Barnes said.
Before Barragan prospectively starts the full-on transformation into a movie theater setting, he still expects to keep a stage there and allow scheduled acts. He said he’d been approached by people about a comedy show or having bands play there on a Friday night or Sunday afternoon.
Barnes has owned the theater for going on four years, but he’s had previous interests in downtown property and has always felt attached to the Granada. He said his grandfather played music there in the 1940s, and he remembers watching “La Bamba” there in 1987.
“I just knew at some point I wanted to re-do that theater,” he said, “just kind of bring it up to spec.”
He said Frank Leal even reached out to give him advice in light of Leal’s renovation of the much larger Granada Theater in Morgan Hill, but Barragan said he isn’t sure he wants to go that route yet.
As for his planned renovations, Barragan mentioned expected improvements to seats, the stage, eventually a screen and the electrical systems. He wants to re-do bathrooms and may use empty units currently on the property for new restrooms.
“They have the lease until end of February 2019,” he said of the stage company. “After that, I’m just going to go full speed ahead.”
With his idea to show classic films at the Granada, Barragan envisioned the theoretical possibility of playing “The Wild One” over the July 4 holiday with an unofficial or official biker rally in town.
“Who’s to say I couldn’t play that?” he said.