Nick Carabetta wants to save the Bay Theatre.
The 28-year-old Long Beach resident said he’s hoping to raise enough money to buy and restore the 65-year-old Seal Beach cinema.
“I didn’t want it to be sold and be turned into retail, which is still a possibility,” said Carabetta, a restaurant manager who works a few doors down Main Street at the Crema Cafe. “I think film is important. I think that particular theatre is important."
Carabetta said he has already filed the paperwork to create the Bay Theater Foundation (note the different spelling of “Theater) and is hoping to get donations and support -- in particular, he'd love the help of an accountant who'd be willing to work pro bono. The first $850 he raises, he said, would go to paying the IRS fee required to become an official nonprofit.
Even before the theatre closed ‘temporarily’ in August, its fate was the subject of concern among locals.
When owner Rena L. Singer listed it for sale in 2008 for $3.3 million, scattered groups of history buffs and city officials sought a way to protect the biz from being bought and torn down.
The Planning Commission sent letters to the theater’s owner and held a brainstorming session on how to save it.
However, there has not been a unified effort with the deep pockets to see it preserved. But Carabetta is hoping to change that.
For Carabetta, the theater, which was founded in 1947, is important because it promotes “community involvement” and because "it's an old building that everyone loves, and, you know a lot of people want to see it saved."
When he decided to start the foundation, he said he knew the city and the residents wanted save the theater "but nobody was actually doing anything about it."
Then he said, he thought, "Why don't I do something?"
Carabetta, who’s studying to get his MBA from Pepperdine, said he’s also planning to start a website for the foundation, which he hopes to have online in February.
And, he said, if he does raise enough money to buy the theater, he’d like to see more events besides movies, like live theater.
Carabetta said that the first movie he saw at the Bay was “The Wizard of OZ” about four years ago.
For more information on the foundation, mail firstname.lastname@example.org(note that the email is “theater” not “theatre.”)
As for the Bay, the business's phone message still states they are closed “temporarily." It's the same message that was on the machine in August.
The Bay Theatre Facebook page includes plaintive posts from residents hoping to see it reopen.
“I grew up in Seal Beach and the Bay Theatre was a huge part of my life. I'm already saddened that the organ is gone, please keep this theater open,” wrote Debbie Hoff. “I have never driven down Main Street without looking at the billboard to check out what is playing. The Bay Theatre is one of the landmarks of Seal Beach.”