Arts and CultureSan Francisco

The Grand Lake Theatre: Free Popcorn and the Flicker of Celluloid

The Bay's best newsletter for underground events & news
Leave your troubles outside...

Leave your troubles outside...

During the Depression, movie houses were havens of escapism from the grim realities outside-a dreamlike vacation for a pittance.  They would even have cool things like entertainment and promotional give-aways to drum up business.  You caught the double feature, got a little soft shoe and walked out with a stoneware set.

Nowadays, you can pretty much rely on getting none of these things from the mundane and ugly movieplex and have them light your wallet on fire. Fortunately, there still a few old movie houses left to save the day.

Take the venerable, mammoth Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland.  Not only, does this deco jewel still glitter above the shores of Lake Merritt, but just like the old days, they have decided to reward their patrons’ loyalty by throwing in the popcorn for free on Tuesdays.  No stage show, but they still got an organist wailing away on the Mighty Wurlitzer.

In the eighties, like other old houses (sad, sad forgotten Alexandria!) they added more screens, so you have just as much options as those blah concrete boxes.  What’s more, the guys that run the place are socially conscious and do things like encourage people to vote and get involved by putting it on their marquee.  So you can feel good about giving them your money instead of creepy Cinemark’s Century or others of the ilk.

Grand Lake Theatre
3200 Grand Avenue
$10 Adults
$7 Seniors/ Kids

$7 Matinee
Free Parking

Like this article? Make sure to sign up for our mailing list so you never miss a goddamn thing!
Previous post

Best of The Hairpin's Fuck, Marry, Kill

Next post

Learn About Bees and Make Microwave Candy at Brooklyn Brainery

Stephen Torres - Threadbare-Fact Finder (Editor, San Francisco)

Stephen Torres - Threadbare-Fact Finder (Editor, San Francisco)

Stephen's early years were spent in a boxcar overlooking downtown Los Angeles. From there he moved around the state with his family before settling under the warm blanket of smog that covers suburban Southern California. Moving around led to his inability to stay in one place for very long, but San Francisco has been reeling him back in with its siren song since 1999.
By trade he pours booze, but likes to think he can write and does so occasionally for the SF Bay Guardian, Bold Italic and 7x7. He also likes to enjoy time spent in old eateries, bars and businesses that, by most standards, would have been condemned a long time ago.


  1. Suzie
    April 19, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    I love this theater! The marquis always inspires conversation & the free popcorn reminds me that some people still value good business. The small screen on the 1st floor of the theater is gorgeous! I love getting there early just to enjoy the decor.

  2. Lisa
    January 13, 2011 at 1:10 am

    Stephen Torres is an uber-sexy, smart mother-fuc(shut yer mouth). Quietly brilliant, observant, .& hot (did i mention i am a gay woman with no sexual-bent toward him?): I’d listen-up to his opinions if were smart like you. Check out Mexican Radio at Lone Star..see for yourself!