The leftover pizza and rolls had barely gone cold at the shuttered Wellesley Bertucci’s restaurant on Washington Street on Sunday before residents started calling for the return of the movie theatre that once occupied that space.
The realtors looking to fill the Bertucci’s and other space in the complex that’s gone vacant haven’t responded to inquiries.
Some would like to see another family friendly restaurant move in, maybe Mexican or barbeque., while others have raised the idea of a piano bar. But if it was up to many current and former residents, there would be a revival of the Community Playhouse that showed movies and hosted theatre and other entertainment productions from the 1920s until 1987. Josh Dorin has written a fine history of the Community Playhouse, which now lives on as the office and retail space now known as Playhouse Square.
Could a theatre really make a go of it in Wellesley, with its lately looser, but still restrictive bar rules and with so many residents having home theatres and movies streamed to their mobile devices? Other local theatres, such as the new one at The Center for the Arts in Natick (TCAN), serve food and alcoholic beverages, and have gained a following. At least one resident hit up the operator of the West Newton Cinema about the possibility of expanding.
“I’m a lifetime resident who would love the theater back!,” wrote one Swellesley reader. “I live in Wellesley – used to live in Dedham, where there is a great old theater downtown (that serves beer and wine and shows fabulous movies),” wrote another.
The closing of Bertucci’s, which saddened some and was no great loss for others, brought back movie memories for longtime residents, who recall seeing classics like Jaws and Goldfinger there.
“I’m surprised to this day that the community back in 1987 didn’t do more to save that wonderful little theater. Surrounding communities have small theaters that survive,” wrote one reader on our Facebook page.
Swellesley regular Patrick Rafter commented on the Bertucci’s story: “Bring back the theatre! A Wellesley venue for film, acting and more! Any local philanthropists in search of a new worthy cause?”