assembled in 1925, the structure of El Cid used to be the Jail Café. This popular
speakeasy/restaurant was designed as a prison. The design was complete with a watchtower, V.I.P. jail cells, and guard/inmate uniformed waiters.
In 1932 the building was converted into The Gateway Theatre, a theatrical
playhouse where The Blackguard has a continuous seven year run.
In 1962, Juan Talavera,
Margarita Cordova, and Clark Allen turned the building into the
Cabaret Concert Theatre.The three
wanted to open their own Flamenco hub after working at the Purple Onion for the
past six years.In late 1962 the playhouse
was converted into a replica of a 16th century tavern, which is El Cid
today.The “El Cid” name was decided on
since Clark Allen originally wanted it named after him.The cost of each letter for an illuminated
sign would be too much though and he decided on El Cid after talking to
Cordova, his wife.The name was the same
title of a popular Spanish movie that had come out at the same time.They kept the theme Spanish, but not 'America
trying to look like Spanish.'One of the
things to attract customers were the leaks in the roof.They would hand out umbrellas to patrons on
rainy days and fans from Tijuana, Mexico on hot days.This along with not knowing whom the waiter
or waitress was that night made each experience unique and business kept picking
up.The El Cid was sold in 1973, after
two patrons held up Allen and Cordova at gunpoint after they closed up for the night and Allen was shot, but not fatally.