A Sad Farewell

by Bill Dunn

During the last week, my family and our community suffered two major losses. Losses that I feel should never have happened. Had I not been faced with a shortened deadline and had already completed my article last week, I would have written about them then instead of wasting my time on the City Manager and his little complaints about my prior written musings.

As Editor Baskin reported last week, the Edwards Temple Cinema showed its last film on Sunday. Apparently our City Council was asleep at the wheel and the property on which it stood was purchased by a private investor while they napped. Which, as Editor Baskin says, puts us at the mercy of the current owner as to what will be going in there. I hope they’re film buffs.

But this is more than city officials not paying attention, more than a piece of property changing hands, it is a blow to everyone who lives in this area. The Edwards Cinema 4, and its original incarnation, were as much a part of Temple City, if not more so, than City Hall. It was one of the only places that everybody in town could utilize, and did.

Everyone in my family went there and I’m sure if you live in Temple City you went there too. It was close enough for all of our kids to get to without a major trek involved. As it stands now, when our kids want to go to the movies we will need to drive them to El Monte, Alhambra, Monrovia, or Pasadena.

Alhambra would probably be the closest, but getting there means you have to drive through the bowels of hell. Because if there is any place in Southern California that has worse drivers than Temple City, which is hard to believe, it’s Alhambra. 

As my son and I passed the theatre on the way to school on Monday, following it’s last day, we were surprised that no time was wasted in removing the film tiles from the marquee. Causing my son, Alex, who was a regular there, to whisper under his breath as we passed “That’s so sad.” 

Coming home after school on Monday, my daughter, Rachel, echoed those sentiments. She and her boyfriend, Andy, were so upset upon hearing about its impending demise that they went to see one final film there on Saturday. It was Ben Afleck’s new flick “Paycheck.” Not exactly one that they will always remember, but at least it wasn’t “Gigli.”

By Monday afternoon the large red illuminated letters that spelled out the theater’s name were gone, the years of dirt that had accumulated behind it remained. Leaving a sad ghostly reminder of one of the great losses to our town in recent years and one that I hope haunts the City Management until they leave office. 

Before that happens, I’m sure they will have their hands full trying to explain to their newest tenant, Applebee’s, why, when they struck the deal to get them to move into Temple City there was a “destination spot” across the street and now it’s gone. I’m sure Applebee’s will be thrilled knowing that all of the thousands of cars passing by will be eating at the restaurants that surround the theatres in Pasadena and Monrovia. Because anything short of a movie theatre on that corner will not provide a draw big enough to solicit new restaurants, no less support the ones that are already there.

The second great loss will happen on Saturday January 10th when the town’s favorite video store, Super Duper Video, closes its doors. Again, another business that my kids would frequently go to, as did many people in our community. As Editor Baskin alluded to in his column, it was far and away the nicest and most comfortable business around.

The staff was always friendly. They made you feel like your presence there was not only welcomed, it was appreciated. This is a lesson that most businesses could learn from. When these employees are in the market for a new job they will be an asset to anyone’s business. 
But something was fishy about the abrupt way that they were leaving and the way we found out about it. 

The announcement came by way of yellow banners hanging from the roof saying “liquidation sale” which my wife and kids saw first. Like moths to a flame they immediately pulled in as if the sign said “free DVD’s and Video Games.” While there they found out the awful truth, that they were closing up shop, destination unknown. The employees were under the impression that it was Applebee’s that was moving into their spot, which was contradictory to what my understanding was. I immediately put on my Sherlock Holmes’ hat and the hunt for the truth was on.

I called the corporate office for Super Duper to see if I could find out what had happened. According to the Corporate Supervisor, Anna, when their lease expired a little over a year ago they were told by the property manager of the Temple City Market Square, Susan Liu, that the City wanted to put a “family restaurant” in their property. She said that until that happened she would continue their lease on a month to month basis, and that she would help them find another space in the Square to relocate to and even help pay for the move. Yeah right.

Faced with this eventuality, about six months ago, the owners of Super Duper, who desperately wanted to stay in Temple City, started looking at properties in the Square. They inquired about moving into the long vacated Men’s Warehouse spot. In an obvious move to discourage them, Ms. Liu told them that the rent would be double of their current lease.

This charade continued until the middle of last month when Ms. Liu called to inform them that they, the non-US residents that own the Square and herself, had found a new tenant and they, Super Duper, had to vacate the premises by the first of January. I’m sorry but what kind of heartless landlord would make such a request of any tenant? You always get 30 days the last time I heard, regardless of the tenant.

After protests by Super Duper the deadline was extended and they had until the 10th. What they didn’t know was that they were not being displaced for a “family restaurant” as they were told. No. They were an unwilling pawn in a game to lure a Blockbuster Video into their spot, which I’m sure will be going in there soon.

This is a foul blow to be served to a business that was one of the very first businesses (since 1991) to gamble in a yet untried property. I for one will not be patronizing Blockbuster, although I am sure many will. I will be going to MP Video down the street or to Hollywood Video, a little further down the street as opposed to condoning the apparently abhorrent behavior of Susan Liu. Or as I now refer to her, The Wicked Witch of The East.

So farewell Edwards Temple Cinema and Super Duper Video. You both served our City well and those of us with long term memories and an iota of loyalty will never forget you and how you helped enhance our community.

The Bush Speaks: Walter Reed is second to none in this kind of medicine. You're using the latest prosthetic technology to help patients overcome great challenges and resume their lives. I know firsthand -- I remember coming here a couple of months ago to pin the Purple Heart on a fellow who lost both legs and one arm. Washington, D.C., Dec. 18, 2003
B.D.’s Response: I don’t think giving someone a medal qualifies as having firsthand knowledge about the latest prosthetic technology.

Bill Dunn can be contacted at info@sgvweekly
Some of his previous articles can be found here.