Business · Fresno · Highlight

Judge hits the brakes on Tower Theatre sale – or at least part of it.

A Fresno County Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order on Wednesday to halt the sale of a portion of the Tower Theatre property to Adventure Church. 

Judge Rosemary McGuire ordered another hearing set for March 17 to determine Sequoia Brewing Company’s legal rights per its lease agreement with Tower Theatre owner Laurence Abbate. 

Though escrow is set to close Friday on the entire Tower Theatre complex, it is unclear what – if any – impact McGuire’s restraining order will have on the sale of key elements of the whole property, including the theater itself.

Initially, Sequoia Brewing filed a lawsuit last week against Abbate saying its right of first refusal was violated. That right would give the brewery the ability to turn down an offer to purchase the theater before a sale is agreed to with a third party. 

However, the attorney for Abbate argued that Sequoia Brewing has an option to purchase in the lease, as opposed to a right of first refusal. 

McGuire told both sides to return on next month with more detailed arguments than they brought forth Wednesday so she can make a definitive ruling. 

Both sides will be allowed to call witnesses for brief testimony. 

McGuire strongly encouraged Abbate and Sequoia Brewing to work out an agreement to avoid the next hearing. 

Had the sale gone through, Adventure Church would have not only become the landowner of the Tower Theatre, but it would have become the landlord for Sequoia Brewing. 

According to court documents, Adventure Church tendered an sale offer of $1.268 million for Sequoia Brewing to purchase its portion of the Tower Theatre complex.

The church is giving the brewery until March 31 to decide on the offer for its portion of the property.

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at