Rancho Drive-In

1200 Connecticut Avenue,
San Pablo, CA 94806

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Rancho Drive-In

The Rancho Drive-In was just off of San Pablo Avenue in San Pablo, Ca. It was opened August 3, 1950, when it was operated by Richmond Drive-In Inc. & Ray Syufy. It was closed in 1973.

Contributed by billspain

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

William on March 5, 2009 at 5:28 pm

The 1961 IMPA has a car capacity also at 560.

William on March 5, 2009 at 6:01 pm

No one really paid any real interest till it was to late. You’re right about the info for them. :)

rockyroadz on May 11, 2010 at 11:06 pm

The Rancho Drive-in was definitely located at 1220 Connecticut Ave. San Pablo, CA 94806 (I worked there as a teen).
The San Pablo Drive-in theater was near Riverside Ave and Hwy 80 in San Pablo.

TLSLOEWS on May 12, 2010 at 11:00 am

Thanks for clearing that up.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 12, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Is this called the El Rancho or just the Rancho? Boxoffice of October 24, 1953, said that Homer Gray was selling his Rancho Drive-In at San Pablo to Ray Syufy. Then the El Rancho Drive-In at San Pablo was mentioned as a Syufy operation in Boxoffice of October 15, 1955. Boxoffice switches back and forth in various items over the years. Which form was on the screen tower or attraction board (or did they each have a different one?)

To add to the confusion, Boxoffice of July 9, 1973, has an item saying that the San Pablo city council had asked the courts to have the Rancho Drive-In permanently closed as a public nuisance, but this item gave the location of the theater as 14th Street and Broadway.

Whatever the name, the drive-in was in operation by September of 1951, and must have been one of the two drive-ins that were reported in Boxoffice of July 8, 1950, to then be under construction at San Pablo.

BJB on July 17, 2010 at 9:39 pm

That was starting to be a pretty dodgy neighborhood in the ‘70s. It was also surrounded by the type of businesses that are only open weekday days, and is otherwise rather deserted at night. I can see why the city council would ask for it be closed down in 1973, as I can imagine some of the type of people and activities a drive-in there could attract. I vaguely recall seeing ads for a weekend flea market at the El Rancho, but don’t remember movies running there. I grew up in the North East bay in the '70s, and people would go to the Hilltop Drive-In by the freeway, but I never heard of anyone going to a movie at the El Rancho.

Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on January 26, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Added aerial from 1959

JohnRice on December 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm

The Rancho did big business in the early 1950’s, before the arrival of the nicer, more modern San Pablo Auto Movies. Before then it’s closest drive in competition in the Richmond area was the El Cerrito Motor Movies. I liked the Dusk-to-Dawn movie marathons on holiday weekends, 4 or 5 features with free coffee and donuts if you managed to stay awake until closing.

xsallnow on November 3, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Used to go to both the Rancho and the San Pablo a lot in the 50’s-60’s. Newspaper theater pages showed the Rancho as being at 14th & Broadway, San Pablo and the san Pablo as being at San Pablo Ave. & Dam Rd., which I believe was in Richmind.

JohnRice on November 5, 2014 at 4:29 pm

The Rancho Drive-In opened on August 3, 1950 with a double bill from Twentieth Century Fox, “The Gunfighter” and “The Beautiful Blonde From Bashful Bend. I posted a scan of the newspaper ad for the opening on the Photos page.

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