An independent movie house in downtown Mesa is shuttering its doors, making it the second pop-culture business there to close this month.
The Royale was scheduled to screen its last movie, a horror flick called Black Christmas, on Christmas Eve. Owner Andrea Beesley-Brown announced the closure just two days earlier.
The Royale was open six months, following a five-year stint of showing movies within other Valley theaters including downtown Tempe’s MADCAP. Beesley-Brown, better known as the Midnite Movie Mamacita, wrote in a farewell announcement that she had no regrets.
“Although an incredibly difficult decision, we are not in a position to take the business to the next-level of growth that it needs to be sustainable,” Beesley-Brown wrote.
She hadn’t planned any future screenings, saying her focus for now is moving from her Main Street storefront. Beesley-Brown said she wanted to seek legal counsel before making any other comments.
The Royale’s closure followed the Dec. 9 demise of Evermore Nevermore, an art and collectible shop that opened in 2009. It blazed a trail for The Royale and other hipper stores that stayed open in the evening and drew younger crowds to a downtown known more for antique stores with limited hours.
Following Evermore Nevermore, downtown added several shops including Gotham City Comics, a movie prop museum called Monsterland, HeatSync Labs and Lulubell Toy Bodega.
The Royale celebrated alternative flicks and independent movies. Its events included a dawn-to-dusk marathon, the premiere of many independent films and a Star Wars vs. Star Trek debate. Beesley-Brown has scheduled a farewell open house from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday.
David Short, executive director of the Downtown Mesa Association, said he didn’t know the details behind the closing. The Royale seemed to start strong and was a good addition to boost interest in downtown, he said. Businesses often need time to grow a clientele, he said.
“Just like any type of business, and whatever kind of retail, it may be there’s going to be ones that survive and thrive and there’s going to be others that have a tougher time,” Short said. “Sometimes those first ones that set the trend have the hardest time making it.”
Short doesn’t see the demise of Evermore Nevermore and The Royale as a sign that some of the more alternative businesses can’t survive downtown. He said Gotham City has done well after an ownership change this year. And Lulubell, which moved from Tucson earlier this month, sold 90 percent of its merchandise in its opening week, he said.
But the recession’s lingering effects are still taking a toll, Short said.
“The economy still hasn’t bounded all the way back, so it’s a tough time to open a business,” Short said.
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