In a time when small, neighborhood theaters are dying out to a multi-theater complexes, the Casa Linda Theatre is holding its own.

“For us, as a neighborhood theater, to compete with that new glitziness, is tough,” says Richard Peterson, president of Peterson Theatres and owner of the Casa Linda Theatre.

“But we’re doing it,”

When Peterson moved to Dallas from Chicago 20 years ago, the Casa Linda Theatre was his neighborhood theater. At that time, he says he was not impressed with the small theater.

But since he bought the theater a few years ago from his previous employer, McLendon Co., the theater has become his passion.

“This was my first theater,” Peterson says. “I made a promise that I would never, to be real blunt about it, let it go to hell.”

The theater was built by B.B. McLendon 50 years ago. At the time, the theater sat alone in the middle of a cotton field, Peterson says. The rest of the Casa Linda Shopping Center was built around the theater later.

Even though there have been quite a few renovations, Peterson says he works hard to maintain the theater’s historical flair.

“There are people who have been coming here for 30 years,” Peterson says. “The upgrades we made were really nice, but we try to keep the original flavor from 50 years ago.”

The success of the theater can be attributed to several things, Peterson says. The quality of the films at the theater has never been sacrificed, he says. The theater has the highest gross revenues on Walt Disney movies in Dallas inside the I-635 loop, Peterson says.

“We are very aggressive on our film buying,” Peterson says. “I think the people in this neighborhood want to see the best films as soon as possible.”

Peterson himself has had a life-long passion for movies, going back to when he was 3 years old and saw his first movie in 1953, “War of the Worlds.”

His first job at 16 years old was as a theater usher in Chicago. He used to dig through garbage cans for old movie magazines and got his first theater management job when he was 18 years old by asking a theater owner if he had any old movie posters.

In addition to owning the Casa Linda Theater, Peterson recently opened the West End Marketplace Cinema 10.

Peterson says he misses the showmanship and promotions of the old theater operations and is hoping to bring some of that back to Casa Linda.

“The showmanship has gone out of the movie business,” Peterson says. “People take it for granted that when you buy a movie, the producer will be out there buying radio and TV.”

News & Notes

FAMILY FLOWER BUSINESS: A Country Garden Florist, at Gaston and La Vista, is under new ownership. Bob Hardman and his son Chris bought the store a few months ago. Bob had been running an electronics business and says he was looking for a change. He handles the business side of the shop and Chris handles the floral and creative side. The shop is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

TOP RECOGNITION: Neighborhood resident David Archibald was recently recognized by the Greater Dallas Association of Realtors as one of the Top Ten Unit producers in the association. Archibald, who is a broker/associate with RE/MAX Associates of Dallas, has received the honor the three previous years.