OCEANA THEATRE, Brighton Beach

by Kevin Walsh

The NetCost supermarket at 1029 Brighton Beach Avenue, just east of Coney Island Avenue where Brighton Beach Avenues escapes from under the Brighton el (B, Q) into fresh air still bears the illuminated words “Theatre” on a marquee, which is unusual for a supermarket but not for a movie theater, which NetCost used to be.

The handsome Moderne building opened as the Oceana Theatre in 1934, with Joan Crawford in “Dancing Lady.” (Crawford did a number of musicals in her early career.) The independent movie house was taken over by the Century Theaters chain. By the 1970s it had been divided into 4 screens and later it was further divided into six screens. In the 2010s, it was no longer showing movies but became home to a number of different Russian supper clubs (the scene in Brighton Beach could be quite lively, I’m told) named the Atlantic Oceana and then the Millennium.

By 2016 NetCost, an upscale supermarket specializing in Eastern European and Russian gourmet goods, had moved into the space. Here’s a Yelp review:

I always stop by when I’m in the neighborhood, simply for their beautiful produce. Some highlights: Russian cucumbers, fresh dill, radish and heirloom tomatoes. They always have the best dark purple Washington cherries that crunch when you bite them, so sweet! There is an abundance of fruits that are difficult to find in most groceries like lychee, sour red and yellow cherries, mulberries, kumquats, and black plums. You can find dried barberries, good for heart health. Of course there is ajvar, and many jams. There are shelves of healthy fruit juices like sour cherry, elderberry, cornell cherry, these are all very high in antioxidants. I am happy that they have some packaged baked goods from Baku bakery (no shaker bura but they have the mutaki, which are similar). I treat myself to a little soda every now and then and they have the usual pear, and tarragon sodas. The freshly baked breads are a delight, so many dense dark seeded breads. Of course there are many Russian goods, and all very cheap.

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Peter April 28, 2021 - 10:43 pm

I’ve never heard of any other former movie theater being converted into a supermarket. It must have been an extensive and expensive conversion given a supermarket’s need for refrigerated and frozen storage areas.
It’s difficult to find mulberries in stores because they are so fragile.

Kevin Walsh April 29, 2021 - 8:39 am

The Fortway in Bay Ridge is also a supermarket.

Matt from Flatbush April 29, 2021 - 5:50 am

I saw the original The Blob there in about 1958. At the point in the movie where the Blob is oozing out of the projector booth, someone yelled out “the Blob is coming” and lots of people ran out of the theater screaming.

Sean Green April 29, 2021 - 5:00 pm

The Loew’s Fairmount Theatre on East Tremont Ave in the Bronx is a supermarket.

Jeffrey H. Wasserman April 30, 2021 - 4:20 am

There was a theater on a side street off of 13th Avenue in Borough Park, north of 43rd Street, that had been turned into a supermarket by the mid 1960s. Even as a kid I figured it must’ve been a theater previously due to its very sloped floor.

Tal Barzilai April 30, 2021 - 6:41 pm

My parents actually went here one time a few years ago, and it was mainly to get Russian foods.

Joe Fliel May 2, 2021 - 7:34 pm

The New Winthrop Theater, on Driggs Avenue and Russell Street in Greenpoint, was converted into an A&P after it closed in 1959. Currently, it is a Met Food supermarket.

Henry February 13, 2022 - 6:41 pm

When I was a kid in the 80’s I lived nearby on Brightwater Court. I remember going to the movies here with my dad, going to double features on the weekend, and particularly remember watching an Arnie movie I was way too young to be watching (Red Heat, which appropriately had Arnie portraying a Russian). I also met the girl that would become my first kiss in a Pet Store a few doors down from the theatre. This place holds a very special place in my heart and it’s a bit sad that it’s no longer a movie theatre, but at least the building is still there. I live in Australia now and haven’t been back here since the late 90’s. Hopefully i can come visit again soon.


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