Downtown San Diego's Theatre Box Venue Permanently Closes After Less Than 5 Years In Business

January 27, 2023

After less than 5 years in business, Theatre Box has ended its run in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. Onsite bar & restaurant concepts Sugar Factory and 3 month-old Villa One Tequila Gardens have also shuttered. 

The team behind Los Angeles' iconic Chinese Theatre had high hopes for its luxury cinema Theatre Box when it opened its doors in San Diego's Gaslamp in December 2018. The grand opening was a star-studded event that featured an appearance by Pitbull and a DJ set by Nick Cannon. 

Formerly a Reading Cinema, the building at Fifth Avenue & G Street was transformed into a luxury, Hollywood-themed movie theater by Elie Samaha, President and COO of Los Angeles' TCL Chinese Theatre, Alwyn Hight Kushner, and Sugar Factory Founder Charissa Davidovici. 

Jorge "Mr. Tempo" Cueva
Over the course of its four year run, the 73,000 square-foot space housed various hospitality concepts, including Sugar Factory American Brasserie & Chocolate Lounge, Nick Cannon’s Wild'N Out Sports Bar & Arcade, and most recently, Nick Jonas and John Varvatos-backed Villa One Tequila Garden & Rooftop Lounge, which just opened this past September 2022. The movie theater part of the project housed eight high-definition movie screens on the second floor of the building with 815 high-end, reclining seats in total, as well as front row lounges for two. 

The Theatre Box venue, Wild'N Out Sports Bar, Sugar Factory and Villa One Tequila Gardens have all now permanently closed, although partner Elie Samaha hopes to maintain and redevelop the three-story space. Plans are to expand Mr. Tempo Mexican Cantina and open a new sports bar concept in the coming months in a 10,000 square-foot, ground level space. The former Wild'N Out space on 6th Avenue will likely be leased to another operator.  

Samaha is also continuing his partnership with Mr. Tempo restaurant founder Jorge Cueva, who also operates King & Queen Cantina in San Diego's Little Italy, and the duo will launch a Tulum-inspired, upscale steakhouse in the unit that housed part of Sugar Factory. The team is in talks with celebrities like Chef Todd English and Mark Wahlberg to partner on the steakhouse project, but nothing is set in stone. There is no decision yet on what will happen with the movie theater rooms, although ownership is tinkering with the idea of keeping some, using space for storage, and/or launching a music hall and bar in the upstairs area of the property.  

Theatre Box is located at 701 5th Avenue in San Diego's Gaslamp. For more information, visit

Rendering of the Tulum-style steakhouse.