The Play is Not The Thing: Elements Kitchen Loses Pasadena Playhouse as Neighbor

Chef Onil Chibas learned today that California's State Theatre, the Pasadena Playhouse, which adjoins Chibas' just-opened Elements Kitchen, will close after its February 7th performance. The theatre has long been plagued with financial troubles.

When Chibas decided last year to expand Elements Café a to a full-size restaurant, he knew the Playhouse faced difficulties. "But I had no idea it would come to this," he told us. "The Playhouse is such a cultural institution, we figured someone would step forward and they'd find a way to keep operating." They share the same landlord.

Elements Kitchen's tomato tartare
Elements Kitchen's tomato tartare
Felicia Friesema

Chibas decided on opening adjacent to the Playhouse on El Molino Avenue in Pasadena after catering for the theatre and discovering the site had lost its previous tenant. "It just made sense," he said, "but I never banked on the Playhouse to sustain us. I knew that Elements would have to stand on its own, with or without a threatre crowd, particularly knowing the theatre goes on hiatus between shows."

The Playhouse had raised several million dollars recently in a capital campaign. "If it were me," Chibas told us, "I'd dip into that. I mean, if you have food set aside for a banquet, but you're starving to death, put the banquet aside and feed yourself."

Whether such an arrangement is possible is not known. In a written statement, the Playhouse's Board supports executive director Steven Eich's decision to lay off all 37 employees and look at every possible solution, including bankruptcy.

Elements Kitchen: 37 S. El Molino St.,Pasadena; (626) 440-0044.


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