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Arrow Santos

By Arrow Santos

When the everyday becomes the never-again, the overlooked becomes the unforgettable.

The reaction of public shock and mourning after the San Clemente Krikorian theater suddenly closed in November of 2017 wasn’t just about the loss of a common amenity, but about the loss of a location that generated so many shared memories.

Your child’s first movie experience. Your first date. Your first job. A time together with your friends on a Friday night. The last time watching something with your grandparent.

It’s often not the what, but the who, and not the how, but the why that matters most when the trivial becomes the iconic. I can neither recall nor estimate how many sporting events I’ve watched on television. I can recall, word for word, the conversations I’ve had with a now-deceased, and intensely missed, loved one during some of those same forgettable games.

You see, it wasn’t about what team won or lost in the background but about with whom I was watching it. It wasn’t about the size of the screen or clarity of pixels or the 7.1 surround sound, but about the reason I was there—to hang out with someone I loved.

These events and places serve as the vehicle of travel on a larger journey, rather than serving as a destination themselves. We didn’t lose a movie theater; we lost a time machine.

We get the English word “nostalgia” from the Greek words “nostos” (homecoming) and “algos” (pain). We feel the pain of longing for a place where we are no longer at. A place, a time, a person, that oftentimes no longer exists.

What I would give to pay $35 for an ICEE (mix both flavors), a box of Junior Mints, a box of Milk Duds, popcorn, and a free tray on which to mix them all together, to sit in those basic seats, clap along with the intro song with all the enthusiasm as if it was the national anthem at a presidential inauguration, watch any movie at all in the entire world, and then go to Wahoo’s and watch a ’90s-themed action sports reel while eating nachos with my friends.

And for those 2½ hours, everything would be right in the world. Back in the days when things made sense. In a simpler, safer past without a thought of pandemics, world wars, or the latest aggravation posted by your neighbors on social media.

Confession: I was just sitting in the Krikorian last week. But it was like a press conference with a politician. Lifeless. Lacking personality. No lights on. And definitely no snacks. Although the 60 liters of 5-year-old soda is still hooked up for easy dispensing, so if you’re really thirsty …

No, I didn’t break in. I have the key on my desk. We’ve been hired by the owners to find a new tenant. I plead for your help in this.

You’ve already shown your strength in creating a thousands-strong army that defied Amazon. Now, we have a mission, one of building, of inviting, rather than dealing out holy damage to deeds done behind closed doors.

Although there are closed doors here, ones we wish to see opened for entirely different reasons. We need to attract a community-invigorating business to occupy this vacant hall, now occupied only by the memories and nostalgia of a previous life.

Can we mourn the loss while also hoping for a new adventure?

All of that to say: tell us your ideas of what type of businesses should go here! We’ll send out the marketing materials and attract those companies to move in. Help us build a future we can’t wait to miss.

To see what it looks like inside the Krikorian today, take a virtual tour of the entire building by clicking here. And then click here to clap along and shed a tear while watching the Krikorian intro clip.

Arrow Santos is a San Clemente native, professional writer/photographer, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup enthusiast, and follower of Jesus. As marketing director of WynneCRE, he has shown his dedication to helping small businesses with their commercial real estate needs and protecting San Clemente’s small-town interests through active community participation and reporting on business news topics. Email Arrow at or call/text at 949.257.2093.

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