Two weeks ago, mid-evening, while walking from my La Mesa Boulevard office to my Lemon Avenue home, I beheld a scene so enchanting, I stopped in my tracks.
A swordfight between farmhand Westley and Inigo Montoya of The Princess Bride played on a large screen at an outdoor patio for a packed audience of children, adults and seniors who were sipping drinks and dining al fresco while enjoying the classic film.
What magical place was I? Tavern on the Green? Cinema Under the Stars? Starlight Theatre in Balboa Park?
No! I was in La Mesa! On a sidewalk outside Gingham's Restaurant! And I live here and I work here! Fantastic!
Everything looked so darn pretty. The night sky slivered by strung yellow lights made a dreamy canopy for the outdoor venue while a blazing fire crackled in the corner. The pleasure of the crowd was so tangible; I watched fond memories being made.
I looked up the movie schedule and saw several of my favorites coming up: Mean Girls, Dirty Dancing and When Harry Met Sally (I love chick flicks) plus movies like Jurassic Park, Tommy Boy and Airplane.
What an awesome idea and great new tradition for La Mesa - our summer nights are warm and there’s nothing like it “out here in East County.”
This Wednesday night, the patio was, save for the strung lights, dark. The flat screen was off, no swordfights, nobody putting Baby in a corner, no fat guy in a little coat, no Tyrannosaurus Rex chasing a jeep. Nada.
I entered the restaurant to see what was going on and spoke with a member of management, who was clearly disappointed, and probably a little frustrated, at stopping the show.
Apparently there’s been one complaint so the movies are on hold. I can see a complaint about live bands but outdoor cinema? Come on! This was a classy venture.
It’s my understanding that because there are sound speakers, the complainer has a leg to stand on. If Gingham has to get permits for outdoor speakers for movies, I keenly hope City Council supports Brian Malarkey and company.
After what The City of La Mesa just put Swami's Cafe through (removal of dining tables for code violations), our restaurants need a break.