Guild Theatre in Menlo Park

As noted previously on InMenlo, Menlo Park’s 90+ year old movie theater, the Guild, is closing Thursday, Sept. 26, to make way for a new Guild that will focus on live entertainment. There will be a free screening of the film Cinema Paradiso at a “Goodbye Guild” event on Wednesday, Sept. 25, at  7:05 pm, with doors opening at 6:30 on a first-come/first-seated basis.

Emails Judy Adams, who spearheaded the Save the Guild effort: “Refreshments will be at the usual prices, but there is no admission charge for the film in honor of the many years of the Guild Theatre. The screening is sponsored by the supporters of the Save the Guild petition, which had 4,000 signers online and at-the-theater, combined.

“It was made possible by Landmark Theater giving up the scheduled film Official Secrets at the 7:05 time slot on Wednesday to allow this free event honoring the many years of indie/arts/documentary films at the Guild, and in cooperation with the Peninsula Arts Guild, and the service of the Guild’s employees.”

With that chapter closed, we checked in with Menlo Park resident Drew Dunlevie who along with Pete Briger and Thomas Layton own the building with plans to re-open it as a live entertainment venue operated by the non-profit Peninsula Arts Guild.

“We’re still working through the various permitting processes with multiple entities including the City of Menlo Park, Caltran [because the Guild is on a state highway] and PG&E,” he said. “There’s a lot of complexity, but that said, I’m hopeful that we are close to getting it nailed down.”

The building will be demolished some time this Fall with a planned reopening about two years out.

“I’ve said since the first meeting in January, 2018, that first and foremost the Guild will be a live entertainment facility,” said Drew. “That said, we can have filmed entertainment on a screen, maybe sporting events, maybe other entertainment as well. There’s even a possibility of hosting week-long film festivals. What we will not be is a first run movie theater.”

Drew concluded: “Our primary mission is to serve the community and we take that seriously.”

Might there be a return of movie theaters to downtown Menlo Park, we asked Mayor Ray Mueller, who replied:

“It’s still my hope, in a parking garage discussion for the downtown, we will have the opportunity to put a small movie theater sub-level in the parking structure, wherein the City would be the landlord and treat the movie theater as a public amenity, keeping the rent low enough it can attract an operator. The theater would be similar in size to the small movie theater at the Northstar Ski Resort. However at the present time the parking garage discussion has stalled without enough support on council to proceed with the project. It may be some time before the parking garage discussion begins again.”

Look back on the history of the Guild in this InMenlo post published in 2011.

Top pPhoto by Chris Gulker (c) 2010; rendering of new Guild Theater as a live music venue by CAW architects

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