"Generally, we don't eat doughnuts in here," laughs Joan Winchell, as she opens a door to the intimate home theater that she and doughnut magnate husband Verne christened "The Bijou" because "it reminds me of a little jewel." One peek inside the 400-square-foot screening room and it's obvious why cruller consumption is frowned upon. This is no TV den.
Retractable brass and wood-inlaid doors modeled after those housing the Chrysler Building's elevator hide a 9-by-7 screen. Fabric patterned with a Frank Lloyd Wright design covers the walls. The six theater seats, custom made in plush suede, recline and feature Art Deco-inspired panels with built-in cup holders and soft lights to read programs by.
The Bijou is the handiwork of New York-based private theater design guru Theo Kalomirakis (who's created mini-Loews for the likes of Eddie Murphy and Cal Ripken Jr.) and L.A. sculptor Frank Gallagher. If not for the custom work, the Winchells' screening room would have cost $60,000; with it, let's just say it was a bit more.
The Winchells--Verne opened his first doughnut shop in Temple City in 1948 but was bought out in 1984 and now breeds and races horses--added the screening room to their six-acre San Marino estate to avoid "crowds, uncomfortable seats and sticky floors," Joan says. Not to mention those high-priced Goobers. "I bring my own snacks when I go out to the movie theater with my nephews," she admits.