By Jane Tierney

Thousand Oaks Theatre on Solano Avenue has changed hands, and current owner Metropolitan has been replaced by a partnership that also runs Serra Theaters in Milpitas which specializes in ethnic, particularly Bollywood movies.

The transfer took place on March 30. The theater has been dark since Sunday and there has been no announcement on when it will re-open.

John Gordon of Gordon Commercial, who handled the transition, said that the new theater would “most likely offer second-run films along with international films from India and possibly elsewhere. There is also an interest on the part of the new operators to offer food and wine/beer for sale.”

There is a limit on the number of restaurants Berkeley will allow in the Solano Avenue business district and that number has already been exceeded. Any new use permit application will need to be reviewed by the City of Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB).

The Oaks, opened in 1925, was designed by the Reid Brothers, who also designed Oakland’s Grand Lake Theater, as well as the Cliff House and the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. According to public records, it has 1,438 seats. In 1973, the theater was divided into two screens. It was renovated in 1994 when Renaissance Rialto became operators there. Allen Michaan, who runs the Grand Lake, operated the theater until 2005, after which Metropolitan took over.

Only the Elmwood Theater and The Oaks are still operated as independent theaters, both located in very successful shopping and residential neighborhoods in Berkeley.

Photos: top: Jane Tierney; above: courtesy of Berkeley historians Richard Schwartz and Jack Tillmany.

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