Alamo on the Bay
Tim League taking the Drafthouse concept to San Francisco
By Richard Whittaker,
9:45AM, Fri. Feb. 17, 2012
Remember how much of a labor of love it was for Tim League when he renovated the Alamo Ritz? Now the Alamo Drafthouse supremo is planning to do the same in San Francisco as he brings that city's historic but dilapidated New Mission Theater into the company.
So why the city by the bay? "San Francisco is my favorite city in the world," League wrote on his blog last night. "My parents met there, I was born in Berkeley, and my wife was working in the city before I begged her to come help me start my first theater venture in Bakersfield, CA. There is no accident that the first theater outside of Austin that my wife and I will own and operate is in San Francisco."
According to League, the theater got on his radar last year when he and Alamo programmers Zack Carlson and Lars Nilsen were in San Fran rescuing prints for the American Genre Film Archive. Now this restoration seems like an ideal challenge for League who (little known fact here) is actually an engineer and art historian by training.
Built in 1916, the New Mission has been empty for years. Although the city of San Francisco granted it landmark designation in 2004 for its historic and cultural significance, last year the San Francisco Chronicle reported that there were plans to turn it into condos. However, many of the original fixtures and fittings are still in place and, while the balcony will be split up to form smaller theaters, the big screen will stay untouched. It will take a lot of TLC to get the New Mission up and working again, but League said that his experience reviving the beloved Alamo Ritz will serve him in good stead. He explained, "We have been working hand-in-hand with the both historic and neighborhood groups to make sure that our restoration plans meet with their approval."
Construction and renovation will take a long time (so long that League isn't daring to suggest an opening date) but there's already an Alamo Drafthouse at the New Mission Facebook page.