Ace Drive-In

8015 Imperial Avenue,
Lemon Grove, CA 91945

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Ace Drive-In

The Ace Drive-In was opened in the late-1950’s and closed in November 1986 with Brian Kerwin in “King Kong Lives” & Charlie Sheen in “The Wraith”. It was replaced by the Village Grove appartment complex.

Contributed by Ken McIntyre

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

kencmcintyre on December 3, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Here is a 1964 aerial photo. The LA Times reported in the late 80s that the Ace was razed in 1984 and replaced by housing. That appears to be more accurate, if you look at the current aerial photo.

rivest266 on August 9, 2011 at 8:41 am

3615 Grove Street maps properly. An apartment complex now stands on the site

old aerial:

jwmovies on August 31, 2012 at 12:55 pm

A better address for this drive-in would be 8024 Broadway, Lemon Grove, California 91945. The entrance is still there. The screen faced away from Broadway towards Lemon Grove Way.

croftjeepn on October 8, 2012 at 11:34 am

JW is correct the entrance was next to where the car wash is now. The theater took up the land now covered by the village walk town house development. You used to go down a private roadway and turn left into the drive in the road also continued north between the drive in and the business that is a cabinet shop now and came out on Lemon Grove way. The road always had some huge potholes. In the late seventies and early eighties it was five dollars a car to go to the Ace drive in. All the mount Miguel high stundents spent some serious time there watching those movies.

coltrane1 on July 7, 2013 at 10:24 pm

My Dad and I used to go to the “ ACE ” on the wk ends , when I was in Jr High and High School // 1960 – 1965. They featured 3-5 Science Fiction Flix and would run them pretty much all night. GREAT MEMORIES !!!

jwmovies on October 24, 2014 at 1:54 pm

Please update to 8024 Broadway.

Chris1982 on October 24, 2014 at 5:25 pm

The newspapers display ads list the address the same as in the header. 8015 Imperial Road.

rokcomx on July 31, 2016 at 4:17 pm

The Ace’s advertised address was 8015 Imperial Avenue in Lemon Grove, though the entrance was on Broadway. Built in the ‘50s on a four acre plot of land, it was owned for years by Eldorado Theatres, and operated for most of its existence by Bill Russo (of Russo Family Enterprises).

In 1963, an admission special of $1.25 per carload was implemented (the nearby Campus Drive-in countered with a $1.24 special, including giving free admittance to kids under 12). In 1969, admission at the Ace was $3.00 per carload, solidifying its niche as the premier area spot for teen gatherings, and the price was lowered further in 1973 to $2.00 per car (it rose again in 1975, to $2.50 per).

By that time, the theater was known for endless kung fu triple features and “head” flicks like The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat, The Groove Tube, Zardoz, and The Kentucky Fried Movie.

It was also known for employees willing to turn a blind eye to cars arriving filled with liquor-laden teenagers and stoners reeking like Tommy Chong’s beard. Locals had a saying at the time: “The Ace is the place to space.” By 1979, the admission price had gone back up to $3.00 per carload.

In 1986, the land beneath the Ace was owned by Oral Carpenter, while the theater itself was owned by Bill Russo, who leased the property for 30 years. “Drive-ins are like dinosaurs,” Russo told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “I’ve already gotten out of eight others in the county.” Shortly thereafter, the land was sold to Jack Guttman, of Guttman Construction.

The last movies screened in November 1986 were King Kong Lives and The Wraith. The 7.6-acre parcel of land at the northeast corner of Broadway and Grove Street later became home to the Village Grove apartment complex, built by Guttman at a cost of around $8 million dollars and featuring 161 rental apartments.

Johnprovince on August 3, 2023 at 10:45 am

I practically lived at the ACE for years. $2 a carload as I recall. It was pretty much an anything goes free space like the beach was in those days.

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