Planning Commission to Consider Port Theater Alcohol Service

posted: November 30th, 2012 04:58 am | 10Comments


The New Port Theater’s management is working to bolster community support in advance of a December Planning Commission hearing that could open the door for alcohol sales at the historic theater.

“We strove to create a super luxurious theater,” said spokeswoman Jessica Prause in a recent telephone interview. “It’s very much a family theater, and it’s a family neighborhood. But we feel that part of being a luxury theater is serving a glass of wine if someone wants it.”

The theater’s owner, Fariborz Maseeh, applied for a license to sell alcohol this summer, but the permit is pending and has been protested, according to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control; read our story here.

Maseeh seeks a minor use permit that would allow the theater to sell alcohol and hot food from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, according to the city’s website.

A petition in support of alcohol sales has 800 signatures, Prause said. The idea to begin the petition came when clients who were watching football games on weekends asked if it was possible to buy beer, and when told no, asked what they could do to change the rules.

“People in the community said, ‘How can we help out?’ I do think we have a lot of support in the community.”

According to the city’s website, alcohol service during public screenings would be provided at the second floor that would be accessible only to customers over 21 years old. “Alcohol service is also proposed throughout the theater (both first and second level) during public theater shows that are limited to patrons over the age of 21,” the website states.

The theater at 2905 East Coast Highway screens movies from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. The application for the permit was filed on June 4, and city officials met with the applicant on Aug. 30 and Sept. 12 to discuss the scope of the project.

At least one person protested the application with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, theater officials said. Theater managers have closed the petition in support of alcohol sales, Prause said, and are reaching out to those who signed it to ask them to attend a Dec. 6 Planning Commission meeting and show support.

The theater, which had closed in 1998 and at one point was slated for demolition, opened in July after an extensive remodel that included seismic upgrades.

Liquor sales, Prause said, could mean the success or failure of the Port.

“It’s something we feel is vital for us to survive, to compete,” she said. “We’re trying really hard to make sure people support us.”

The Port Theater, meanwhile, has sent letters to Corona del Mar residents, asking for supporters to attend the Planning Commission hearing and including a form letter of support to send to Mayor Nancy Gardner.

At a Corona del Mar Business Improvement District board meeting held Thursday, Gardner told Prause that she’d received several copies of the letter but advised her that they should be sent to the Planning Commission instead. Unless the Planning Commission’s decision is appealed to the City Council, she said, she would not be making any decisions about alcohol at the theater.

10 Responses to “Planning Commission to Consider Port Theater Alcohol Service”


Nightclub Alert

November 30th, 2012

I warned months ago when the theater wanted open for things other than showing movies that it was a slippery slope to becoming a nightclub / lounge / party rental space. There is no way they could go from theater to bar overnight but just keep chipping away at it and taking those small steps and down the road they will get to their destination. What you will have then is not a place that serves the neighborhood rather an attraction that draws people who will need to park (they don't have parking and will infringe on other businesses and the neighborhood for that) Stop the progression, if they can make it as a theater great, if they want to be anything else I would rather see another bank than a bar. I don't live on the peninsula or in Huntington Beach because of what alcohol fueled foolishness takes place there we have plenty of places for that just a short distance away. If you need to drink while watching the game in CDM try The Place, or Crow Bar.


November 30th, 2012

Sounds like it is evolving into an oversized sports bar and gambling parlor. Will this be considered historic use?

Jay T

November 30th, 2012

Look, this theater can be a really great addition to our community. Serving "Beer & Wine" will add to the ability for this place to make a living and serve a greater amount of patrons. It will encourage more employment and more tax revenue which in this BAD BUSINESS state and country we need more than ever. Again we are talking wine and beer here not having whiskey drinkers and winos staggering through the alleys. Sorry whiskey drinkers! How great to watch a classic movie with a glass of Cab. or watch a bowl game with some suds and popcorn. Lets do this! Support the Port!


November 30th, 2012

I support the alcohol sales application wholeheartedly. It's already a very good theater, and this would contribute to its future success as a unique venue for our community.


November 30th, 2012

There is neither room or viable business reason for the theatre to become a night club. Its not going to go that route, stop worrying. Also, this is not the only theatre in the area to sell alcohol. A mile down the road we've got a large theatre in Fashion Island selling alcohol and everything is fine. Its a great place to see a movie. No one is going to get hammered and throw up on your lawn because they serve a couple of glasses of wine to someone. Anyway, there are bars and restaurants a few feet away from the theatre that serve alcohol and those have been fine. I'll add this though, i'm pretty sure the theatre at Fashion Island that serves alcohol has an age limit for entry. It may be a case where if you want to serve alcohol you're going to have to not allow in under 21 aged people. Goes against the family atmosphere. While I don't personally have a problem with kids being around adults legally consuming an alcoholic beverage, I also recognize that compromises might need to be made to get that license.


November 30th, 2012

Let's support the theatre. To compete with Fashion Island, they need to serve hot food, beer and wine. CDM should get behind this theatre and all it offers our community!


November 30th, 2012

This is the nicest movie theater I have been to and a gem to have in walking distance. Not to mention, this building was an eyesore before the recent renovation. I'm very happy it was revived and is now open. I personally don't drink, but I fully support the business serving alcohol. It is a PCH facing business, and they are only asking permission to serve until 11pm.


December 1st, 2012

Many are evaluating their support for alchol sales at the Port based upon the fine reputation of the prpoprietor and the expectation that the alcohol service will be something like a glass of wine or beer with a movie. What are the community's thoughts about football games with beer on Sundays, Monday night and Super Bowl? How about surf movies with beer sales? If there are no restrictions from these and other uses, does this affect support for alcohol sales? What if this generous operator who has given CdM the gift a rejuvinated and beautiful Port Theater decides to sell? The use permit that allows alcohol sales will run with the land and could pass to the next operator without restriction. Considering that the property provides no parking, should the community bear the impact of a regional attraction if this or another operator decides to promote the alchol sales in conjunction with attractions that go beyond the neighborhood? I hope your readers respond with their thoughts.


December 1st, 2012

The spectacular renovation of this historic icon is truly the jewel in the crown of Corona del Mar. We should all be grateful that we have a philanthropist with the resources available and the willingness to take an enormous risk and spend their time and treasure to enhance our community and quality of life. I have no doubt that the most vocal opponents of this effort are the ones who get in their car and drive into other peoples neighborhoods in Laguna Beach and other village communities and enjoy a glass of alcohol at charming iconic venues and don't think twice about it, yet all the while benefiting from the experience through an enhanced quality of life; maybe it was a first date or holiday celebration like mothers day Memorial Day or just a Saturday Night. But when that same thing is going on in their backyard they oppose it. Many call these people NIMBY's but I call them Hypocrites. If we were to limit every decision based on actions of a handful of bad actors then nothing would ever get accopmlished and before we know it we will be speaking chinese. I know that with the recent Presidential election we are on a fast track to that reality, but hopefully before all of our constitiutional rights are stripped from us by big government control we will be able to attend enter the New Port Theater and attend a holiday presentation of The Sound of Music with a superb glass of Cabernet or sip and Ice Cold Beer with our friends and neighbors at a community viewing of America's number one past time the Super Bowl.


December 2nd, 2012

No need to make this a divisive issue. People on both sides of the political divide are in favor of the New Port Theater's petition for alcohol sales permit.

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