Published on Feb. 26 2020
A San Lorenzo native plans to reopen the San Lorenzo theater.
By Joseph Licano
Photo | Joseph Licano
The San Lorenzo theater shut down in 1982 due to the rise of more modern theaters we have today.
On Nov. 22, 2019, Matt Delima, an AHS alumni and a business owner, presented his plans for the San Lorenzo theater infront of the selection panel of the Alameda County and a group of development professionals. Finally, he got approval to work on this project after 40 years since it closed its doors.
“While I was living here, I always wondered what was inside. I would...wonder if anyone was ever going to do something with it, and it feels like it was the ultimate challenge for me to go in there and do something,” Delima said.
Delima shared his vision in making it a multi-purpose building. He thinks that it should not only be a theater but also an inhouse brewery serving food. Moreover, it can also be an open venue for special events like weddings and parties.
“We were talking about it in our meeting, and everybody was so excited...I was actually expecting people to be not for it but...they like the idea. When the meeting was over, people came up to me and offered me help, I never had that reaction to any other restaurant I ever opened,” Delima said.
With housing projects also being developed in the San Lorenzo community, he feels it would bring in more people into the developing community which ultimately lead Delima to pursue the project.
“I like that they are redeveloping that area, the green village project. That’s an added bonus,” Delima said.
With the theater being planned to be multi-purpose, Delima plans to share the space for local schools so that they could have performances and concerts at the theater.
“During the week, I want people and schools from the unified school district to have all their performances there...It would allow young kids to perform on a stage that’s a whole other level from what they are used to,” Delima said.
Music teacher Pat Schultz was open to the idea and stated how much her students would love to perform away from their usual stage in the cafeteria.
“They always enjoy it because it makes them feel special, like they really are on a professional stage...The kids enjoy performing at other locations,” Schtultz said.
She believes the theater offers importance and untapped potential and was glad that someone finally decided to use the theater.
“I think that it has a great use. The property has been tied in red tape for a very long time...The community needs a place to hold all sorts of occasions,” Schultz said.
School Assistant Debbie Pierstorf has lived in San Lorenzo for most of her life and saw and visited the theater multiple times before it was closed.
“I would always go Saturday morning for the mantinais, [and] most kids did the same thing,” Pierstorf said. “It looked nothing like a theater now. It showed its time of age...It was just a plain old movie theater but still so much different from what we have today,” Pierstorf said.
Once hearing the news of the theater, she quickly shared similar feeling of gratitude that someone was finally using it.
“It’s so sad to see it sit there. It’s just wasted property...Us old-schoolers miss a lot of what it had back then, and a lot of people who still live in the community would like to see a part of it come back,” Pierstorf said.
The theater has been set idle for long, and being a business owner with eight successful businesses, Delima plans to showcase its potential and make it into the theater the community has been waiting for.
“There’s definitely some emotional connection and sentimental value to opening up a business within the theater. Getting this place open would mean a lot to the community, and that would make me feel good that I was able to help get it open,” Delima said. •