Enterprising couple Ben and Cyndie Klorer have big plans for the historic Metropolitan in San Andreas. With the help of family and friends, they hope to restore a tradition of food, nightlife and entertainment, transforming the cavernous space into a venue that competes with the best in the region.
“Our vision is to have people from outside of our community come up here to see what’s so cool about San Andreas,” Cyndie Klorer told the Enterprise. “Look at places like Murphys and Sutter Creek. What do they have that we don’t? Theater and culture.”
With over 30 years of theater experience and a certification in arts management, along with a lifelong connection with the town and its residents, Klorer is well-equipped to make that vision reality. Her first post-high school theater production took place at the Metropolitan in 1994, sparking a love affair with both theater and the former hotel steeped in tales of Mark Twain, Bret Harte and the Big Four of the Central Pacific Railroad.
Klorer has made a career working for theaters throughout the Mother Lode, and in recent years she founded Fourth Wall Entertainment Troupe, a company that combines music, dancing, food and original theater into an interactive murder mystery experience. After hosting upward of 50 people in her home four times a year, Klorer was looking for a larger venue, and that search brought her straight back to the Met.
The building, which has maintained its old-fashioned charm, sits near the burnt remains of what used to one of the finest hotels in the county, constructed in 1869. It was converted into a movie theater during the 1950s. In the early 1980s the Calaveras County Arts Council revitalized the place into a Cultural Center, gutting the screen and seats to create an open hall for dining, dancing and performances.
Today, the Met is owned by the Foley family, along with many of the buildings on San Andreas’ historic Main Street.
Octogenarians Glenna and Harry Johnston, who were in attendance at the Met’s grand reopening on Jan. 5, remembered paying 25 cents to see a movie during the building’s cinema era – an integral part of the early days of their relationship. Now, their daughter Staci Johnston, executive director of the Calaveras County Chamber of Commerce, presided over the ribbon cutting.
“This used to be the place,” Staci Johnston said, reminiscing about the many crab feeds and social functions held in the uniquely hangar-esque hall. “It’s an iconic place for San Andreas. … I couldn’t be more excited to see it come back to life.”
According to Klorer, the Met has been largely underused for the majority of the past decade, with the exception of the occasional event. The Klorers are now leasing the building for one year in the hopes of utilizing it to its full potential. If things go well, she said, their business will continue to grow into the future.
The plethora of activities offered at the location will span far beyond murder mysteries, catering to kids’ and adults’ interests alike. A former bar owner in Germany, Ben Klorer will be opening the restaurant and bar in February. The couple’s daughter, Pandora Muetterties, will be offering catered painting classes starting Jan. 28. Yoga classes will be starting in the spring and cardio workouts incorporating aerobics and weight training have already begun.
For some drama, Off the Wall Youth Theatre Troupe has productions planned at the Met throughout the year, and auditions for “The Magical Lamp of Aladdin” will take place Jan. 29 and 30. Tickets are on sale for the first murder mystery night on Jan. 26. Guests are invited to dress in their 1920s best and step into an immersive speakeasy experience “to die for.”
Other events include Sweetheart Swing: Valentine’s Dinner & Dance, Super Bowl Sunday and numerous open mic and karaoke nights.
Though it may seem like a lot for two people to take on, the Klorers are supported by an advisory committee of friends who will help develop ideas and make decisions about how the space will be used. The venture has been supported by an outpouring of community volunteers, and the Klorers seek, in turn, to support their community.
“Fourth Wall’s vision is to help unite our community by bringing citizens and small businesses together through history, culture and appreciation of the arts,” their mission statement reads. “We serve local wines, employ local artists and hire local employees in our restaurant and bar.”
For information on upcoming events, visit the Metropolitan Facebook page.