Boffo Cinemas has signed a 20-year lease with Jonathan’s Market to transform the retail space at 7611 Fay Ave. from a high-end market into a premium multiplex theater.
“We will have a bar and restaurant that will cater to our patrons and offer in-seat service,” said Adolfo Fastlicht of Boffo, a firm named for the movie industry term denoting a smash success.
“It will be a family venue, an upscale boutique catering to everybody in the community,” said Carlos Wellman, Fastlicht's partner in the venture.
Jonathan's announced on May 1 that it will close June 1 after 18 years at the Fay address.
Fastlicht noted that Boffo will be something different — and more — than your garden-variety theater, as it will offer “reserved seating, online reservations and an augmented menu.” While not disclosing what cuisine exactly will be served, Fastlicht noted such fair typically includes items like sushi, paninis, wraps, sliders, salads and pizza.
Boffo’s decor, said Fastlicht, will be well-appointed, with “warm and inviting finishes that will translate into a comfortable environment.” He said the affect will be to create a “hospitality-type feel that is pleasant and relaxed.”
Preliminary plans include the building of seven screens, with 50 to 60 comfortable lounge seats each. The complex is scheduled to be open 365 days a year.
Fastlicht noted that the former Jonathan’s space will necessitate extensive remodeling, including a partial second story. He added that it's hoped the theater will open next March.
The retail space was a Big Bear supermarket before it was purchased by the Dallo family in 1995. The Dallos turned it into a boutique market.
Attorney Michael Dallo said Boffo came to them with a proposal for altering their retail space.
“They approached us with this idea of leasing the property to them,” Dallo said, “and, after long thought, it made sense for us.” He added that the final decision to lease the property was “tough — bittersweet.”
But in the end, Dallo said, “We felt it was a (business) opportunity for us, and exactly right for La Jolla, which is developing and changing.”
Dallo said Boffo will take control of Jonathan’s on June 1, the date of the market's closure. He said the boutique market’s approximately 45 employees will be offered employment elsewhere at the company’s Harvest Ranch locations in El Cajon and Encinitas and at its Foodland Markets in South Bay.
For a number of reasons, Fastlicht said La Jolla was the perfect choice for their new theater concept.
“La Jolla is a great market, has fabulous demographics — the right population density, the right average household income, the right education levels, the culture and sophistication,” he said, noting the community “has lacked a movie theater for many years.”
La Jolla had a single-screen theater, the art-moderne-style Cove, at 7730 Girard Ave. The Cove was built in 1948. In 2002, it was sold and converted into a European-style furniture store.
Currently, the nearest movie theaters to the Village are on La Jolla Village Drive and in La Jolla Village Square.
Wellman and Fastlicht noted there was a “void in the [La Jolla] market,” adding they wanted to “develop something here” given that the Jewel is a “unique, wonderful destination... incredibly difficult — if not impossible — to replicate.”
Fastlicht said his vision revolves around retro in that it harkens to the glory days of Hollywood, when movies were king.
“We are returning to 50, 60 years ago, when going to a movie was an event,” he said, noting that concept has been lost with commercialization and the development of malls and multiplexes.
“The theater just became another anchor,” Fastlicht said, adding that’s about to change.
“We want people to make a conscious decision to come here (theater) because they want to be pampered,” he said, adding that a Boffo patron will no longer be “one of 300 people in an auditorium having to wait three, four or five deep in a concession line. Though our concept may not be right for everyone everywhere, the beauty of it is we will be right in the middle of a town that has the culture, the sophistication and the willingness to appeciate it.”
Noting it’s “regretful that Jonathan’s is closing," Fastlicht pointed out that “times change.”
“We really think this theater will have the ability to propel the village of La Jolla for the next couple of decades,” he said. “It should really become a classic.”
For more information about Boffo, visit www.boffocinemas.com.