Campbell's Planning Commission opposed plans to turn the historic Gaslighter Theater into a restaurant and bar, but the City Council will hear an appeal Jan. 3. (Photo by Felipe Buitrago)
In its nearly 100 years of existence, the Gaslighter Theater in Campbell has gone from holding sharecropper’s cash as a bank in the 1920s and showing movies during World War II to being a small-stage theater for vaudeville acts and an all-ages rock venue as recently as 2006. At that time, the white marble landmark, with thick columns bracketing the entrance, was closed temporarily so it could be refashioned as a lounge.
Five and a half years later, the Gaslighter remains dark. But there’s hope the theater could be resurrected in coming months if it can overcome the kind of obstacles that frequently crop up in small town development battles.
The South Bay nightclub veterans who operate of Sabor and Myth Taverna and Lounge in San Jose have been working to reopen the Gaslighter as a restaurant and bar called Dasha. “It is my intention is to bring the Santana Row crowd back down to Campbell,” says Ray Shafazand of Melodann Inc., which has teamed up with property owner West Hall Properties, LLC to launch the project.
Holding up the potential migration of nightlife customers south on Winchester is a strict alcohol ordinance that Campbell imposed in 2009. The Downtown Alcohol Beverage Policy prohibits any new establishments from serving drinks after midnight. In October, the city’s Planning Commission unanimously opposed Melodann’s application for a conditional use permit (CUP) on the grounds that the application would violate the ordinance. Underlying the technical objections are some cultural issues related to just how stylish a downtown befits a town whose central district was not too long ago populated by prune packing warehouses.