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A ‘Lot’ to celebrate: It’s show time again for The Lot La Jolla

Carson, Debra and Jackson Worthen (from left) drove in from Ramona for their first movie theater experience in a 18 months.
Carson, Debra and Jackson Worthen (from left) drove to The Lot La Jolla from Ramona for their first movie theater experience in a year and a half.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

After being dark for six months, The Lot La Jolla’s movie theaters are lighted up once again — until show time, that is.

The Village’s only movie theater, at 7611 Fay Ave., reopened May 6 after pandemic-related restrictions forced its closure. Movie-goers and hungry patrons were welcomed back with limited movie screenings and a limited menu, with plans to expand offerings in coming weeks.

Public health protocols mean enhanced cleaning and sanitization practices throughout The Lot, according to General Manager Marcos Sayd, and masks are required in the building when customers are not consuming food or beverages.

Theater capacity is limited to 50 percent of pre-pandemic numbers to allow for social distancing, and unrelated ticket holders are spaced at least six feet apart.

Shortly after the opening, La Jolla residents Nancy and Rich Carroll were at The Lot’s box office to buy tickets for a weekend movie. “We’re very tired of our Netflix movies,” Rich said.

Nancy said they like everything about The Lot — “the ambiance, its open space, it has good food.”

“We can’t afford to lose it,” Rich said. “As a community, we’ve lost so many retailers and restaurants. We’ve got to stop it.”

“La Jolla needs to support this type of business,” Nancy said.

After a months-long closure, The Lot La Jolla is open for movies and food, with limited show times and a limited menu.
After a months-long closure, The Lot La Jolla is open for movies and food, with limited show times and a limited menu available.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Debra Worthen drove in from Ramona with her two grandsons, Carter and Jackson, to watch “Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train” at The Lot, their first in-theater experience in a year and a half.

“We love The Lot,” Worthen, a longtime customer, said of her drive to La Jolla. “I’ve seen all the Marvel movies here.”

“It’s just quality service,” Carter said. “They’re really nice here.”

“I like the chairs,” Jackson said.

Nicole Duque said “it’s amazing” that The Lot is open once more. She took her young son, Diego, to see “Tom and Jerry” for his first movie theater trip. “It’s awesome.”

So what was Diego looking forward to the most? “Candy.”

The Lot hadn’t had any sellout shows the first afternoon back, though Sayd projected that the weekend screenings will see higher numbers, and he’s expecting more ticket sales from Memorial Day into the summer.

Preparing The Lot for reopening has been challenging, Sayd said. “There’s curveballs being thrown, but we’re really trying to hit them out of the ballpark.”

One of the challenges has been hiring staff members; many were furloughed and then laid off during the theater’s closure, he said.

Sayd said his team also has been working on rebranding The Lot’s restaurant, details of which will be announced soon. “We’re excited to launch it,” he said.

The Lot's general manager, Marcos Sayd, says he envisions the restaurant/theater as a "community hub."
The Lot’s general manager, Marcos Sayd, says he envisions the restaurant/theater as a “community hub.”
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Sayd said he envisions The Lot as a “community hub of La Jolla.” Regular customers include people who work nearby and pop into the cafe for coffee. A group of mothers from La Jolla High School meets there; a local real estate agent holds client meetings there.

“I’m meeting all these personalities” who tell Sayd they missed The Lot, he said. “For some people it’s a coffee shop, for some people it’s where they come cheer on the Padres, for some people it’s where they come have lunch every day, where they come for happy hour every day, where they come for dinner on the weekends, where they come watch a movie or they come for cocktails.”

“My job is only fulfilling when I can see people happy … when people are sitting in a theater and laughing together, crying together, feeling anxious about the movie together,” he added. “That is what my job, my career, is really about.”

For show times and more information, visit thelotent.com.