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Center Cinemas Likely to Close Jan. 4, as Owner Rejects Six-Month Lease Extension


Dec. 15, 2014 By Christian Murray

The owner of Sunnyside Center Cinemas has rejected the six-month lease extension that he was offered by the building owner last week —saying the extension is just too short.

Rudy Prashad, the owner of the Center Cinemas, said it was not worth hiring new staff or unpacking his equipment for six extra months. His last day remains January 4.

“My bags are packed and are pretty much sitting at the front door,” he said.

Prashad said that he mulled over the offer over the weekend but decided it didn’t make sense. “I’ve been making preparations, dealing with staff and it just doesn’t work for me to go back for that short of time.”

Prashad said that he had been trying to reach the owner for the past year to work out where he stood with his lease. He said that if he had been offered the extension three months ago then it would have worked out.

However, at this point, he would be only be willing to stay if he was offered at least 12 months.

Prashad said that movie theaters like his tend to make their money in summer and scrape by in winter. A six month lease would end just before the summer peak season kicks in.

Several residents are hoping that the property owner John Ciafone will offer Prashad a longer lease.

Many want to know if Ciafone is able to build the apartments above the theater without completely demolishing it.

A rally is scheduled to take place between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. in front of the theater this Sunday and is being organized by local residents Ty Sullivan and Jon Storck.

“We hope it might help open up a discussion between the landlord and the theater owner,” Sullivan said, who believes the rally will be worthwhile.

Sullivan said the loss of the theater would hurt low-income families the most– since many would be unable to afford going to the big multiplex cinemas in Astoria or elsewhere.

The rally, Sullivan said, also aims to show that Sunnyside is a community and that people care.

“This is a neighborhood that is made up of independently-owned and family-owned businesses,” he said. “It’s family-friendly and affordable and we don’t want to lose that. We want to tell buildings owners that is who we are and that’s how we would like to remain.”

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said he supports those involved in the rally—such as Sullivan and Storck.

“I want them to know I am behind them and I will be amplifying their voices as their council member,” he said

Van Bramer encourages John Ciafone to come back to the negotiating table to see what can be done.

“I will be reaching out to John Ciafone and his family again,” he said.


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nicole constante

I vote to save center cinemas. I would go to that move theater with my dad and some of my friends. the theater has wonderful memories. hopfully the theater will be saved.

dont worry this is not an epic long patricia dorfman post

this guy should turn it into a porn theater on the last day, just for laughs.


Ciafone is a notorious slum lord in Brooklyn and Queens. He puts posters of himself all over buildings that he owns in Astoria. A little internet research pull up some pretty scary information on this guy. Its too bad that he is buying in Sunnyside.


So all this uproar and petition signing and the guy who runs this dump of a business doesn’t even want to take the extension offered!! What a waste of energy. You guys are fighting for a business that the owner isn’t even fighting for! LOL! This guy seems to like to play the victim. Wow is all I can say!!


Nope – I am far from big real estate. Just someone who is realistic. Things change. If this guy Ciafone is as bad as they say he is then just don’t rent from him, buy a condo from him or spend any money in any of his establishments. That is how you hurt someone. Not by protesting to keep a rundown business open that the proprietor of that business doesn’t even want to keep. It just makes it look a bit ridiculous. Just my humble opinion!


I totally agree MaryKate. This theater may have been a community treasure at some point, but that ship has long since sailed. Developers make an easy target, I guess, but the the theater’s fate was sealed by the owner who ran it into shambles. If you insist on naming a villain, then Mr. Prashad is your guy.

Carlos Bermudez

This movie theater is part of the history of this neighborhood and it provides a a great service and affordable movie experience to families of this community


I hope people educate the idiots that will surely be swindled into thinking that living in that spot will be great.


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