738 El Camino Real,
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Previous Names: Le Duet
An aptly named twin theater, Le Duet cinema, opened in 1966. Ralph Shrader and his wife, Mimi* (my first wife’s paternal grandparents), lived several blocks away on Kennard Way, and, at Ralph’s urging, were first in line at the opening; they were admitted free. The theater was set back from El Camino Real by a parking lot and beckoned to patrons with a pleasing neon sign in aqua-colored script. When one auditorium was divided, making the theater a triplex, a new name had to be found, so the theater took its name from its location in the Hacienda shopping center. The signage was somewhat hastily retrofitted to advertise the additional screen. I attended one movie there, in 1989, and have only a vague memory of the auditorium walls being colored in light aqua blue-grey fabric or paneling.
In the 1990’s, the entire shopping center was rebuilt from the ground up, leaving only the name Hacienda to hint at what once was.
*Interestingly, Mimi (Graves) Shrader was cashier at the El Capitan in San Francisco when it opened. Later, she rose to the position of Head Usherette.
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