Downtown San Diego gains a new entertainment wonderland this week with the premiere of Theatre Box, which combines a luxury movie theatre with nine bars and six food venues spread across the two story, 73,000-square-foot space. The multi-million dollar transformation of the city block, formerly Reading Cinemas Gaslamp, is a partnership between Hollywood’s historic TCL Chinese Theatre and Sugar Factory, which runs glitzy eateries around the globe.
It debuts today, with a celebrity-powered grand opening scheduled for Friday, December 14, when Grammy award-winning artist Armando Christian Perez, aka Pitbull, will be honored as part of the theater’s iconic “hand and footprint ceremony” and actor, comedian, and San Diego native Nick Cannon will perform a DJ set.
The lobby is a sweet tooth’s paradise, holding a gelato bar and all-day cafe serving coffee drinks and fresh pastries as well as a retail space stocked with a whopping 450 types of confections and candy. Decorated with photos of TV and music personalities, including many Kardashians, the entryway also includes a daiquiri bar and sidewalk patio.
Offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the Sugar Factory American Brasserie is a dramatic 14,000-square-foot restaurant and bar with an over-the-top menu that ranges from goblet-sized, candy-garnished signature cocktails, bubbling and smoking from dry ice, to branded Insane Milkshakes that hold four scoops of ice cream and are topped with everything from a mini cheeseburger to a whole piece of cheesecake. Savory dishes include woodfired pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and salad. The Chocolate Lounge, an adjacent 3,000-square-foot space, will feature regular DJ sets and serve sushi and appetizers along with cocktails in chocolate-dipped glassware and desserts like chocolate fondue and chocolate-covered strawberries.
Upstairs, there are eight, dine-in boutique theaters with reclining leather seats. Movie-goers can pre-order a “theatre box” filled with goodies or choose from an enormous menu of drinks and dishes including a six flavors of popcorn, made-to-order doughnuts, and a shareable 24-piece sushi boat.
Another trio of venues will roll out in late spring, including a 4D theater for movie screenings with special effects and esports games. Promising the largest televisions in San Diego is Nick Cannon’s Wild ‘N Out Sports Bar, a 14,000-square-foot space decorated with memorabilia from the MTV show and featuring an arcade full of interactive games; Cannon himself will be showing up for monthly DJ appearances. Pitbull will also return, headlining iLov305, a 6,000-square-foot rooftop tiki bar and eatery that will be a seafood-focused offshoot of the Miami steakhouse and nightclub that he and Sugar Factory are opening in Miami.