03/18/05 - posted by gary meyer
Many people loved the Surf Theatre and the very special programming and atmosphere its owner Mel Novikoff brought to what had been a truly rundown "nabe." He added a cafe long before it became trendy and put his personal stamp on the place, showing American premieres of international films, providing a showcase for local filmmakers and reviving classics from Hollywood and the world.

Mel was my mentor, a role he unwittingly played for many of the nations finest film programmers as he expanded to restore the Castro and bring exciting first run art films to the Clay and Lumiere. He had to close the Surf but if you travel out towards the end of Irving Street, look for a Korean Baptist Church with an empty lot to the west and you'll find it.

When I took over the operation of the Balboa 4 years ago I dedicated the project to the Surf and Novikoff. Many people come in asking if we remember the Surf...some even ask if the Balboa used to be the Surf. They are each near Golden Gate Park and close to the ocean but on opposite sides of the park.

We have started printing a calendar and it is a direct hommage to the Surf.

Check it out at http://www.BalboaMovies.com and support the few remaining neighborhood theaters.
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The Western Neighborhoods Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.