In the early morning hours of Feb. 4, Long Beach native and chef Beeline Krouch, the owner of the much lauded Chinitos Tacos in Lakewood just outside of El Dorado Park, woke up to a small business owner’s nightmare: His restaurant space at 11130 Del Amo Blvd. had its front glass door entirely smashed, the interior ripped apart.
“We got hit at about 4AM,” Krouch said. “Thankfully they didn’t get any money but this is the third time in four years—and it feels, as of lately, it’s happening more across the area.”
Krouch’s presumption isn’t entirely off target: The Breakfast Bar and Speak Cheezy, both on 4th Street in between Redondo Boulevard and Termino Avenue in Belmont Heights, saw the same masked suspect break into their stores and walk out with two registers from Breakfast Bar and a safe from Speak Cheezy.
While Jason Winters of Speak Cheezy and Pamela and Joshua Beadel of The Breakfast Bar have both reported the matters, frustration and a sensation of feeling on edge remains.
“I sent the [Long Beach Police] all the info—and they need solid evidence to prosecute which doesn’t exist because he was masked,” Winters said.
Joining Chinitos, Speak Cheezy, and The Breakfast Bar are Baja Sonora on Clark Avenue on Jan. 29; Roxanne’s/Willie’s Tin Shop in Cal Heights on Feb. 1; The Social List on Retro Row, broken into around 6AM on Feb. 3; and a not-reported-publicly break in at Phnom Penh Noodle Shack the same week as Speak Cheezy and Breakfast Bar.
“We are absolutely dismayed,” said Roxanne’s owner Robert Molina. “Cal Heights is the largest historical district in Long Beach and our building is no different. To see damage to the building like that really struck a nerve. Luckily, nothing of major value was taken but he did take it off with two Jackrabbit Whisky bottles, so the joke at the office has been, ‘At least he has good taste!’ A sliver of laughter in a seriously unfortunate event.”
“This is the third time in eight months for The Social List,” said co-owner Luis Navarro. “We’ve been trying to compare videos with other businesses and are like, ‘Are these the same gloves? Is this the same guy? But he’s wearing a different mask.’ It’s… It’s just been frustrating.”
Vice Mayor Cindy Allen said that she has been notified and while some burglaries—specifically the two that occurred at Speak Cheezy and The Breakfast Bar—can be correlated, a larger connection between the citywide burglaries has yet to be determined.
“No business owners have reached out to me personally yet, but I have been briefed by the police department, telling me they will put officers in the area notifying other businesses of the incident and advise them to be extra vigilant,” Allen said. “We don’t know if the burglaries are related or not as it’s still under investigation.”
Mayor Rex Richardson is well aware of the situation, noting that he has spoken with multiple business owners, including those of The Social List and Roxanne’s, about City Hall’s concern and possible help with the situation as the investigation continues.
“I want Long Beach business owners to know that I am on top of it,” Richardson said. “Teams are working on getting the businesses connected to potential grants and I am personally touring many of them as I meet with 100 small businesses in 100 days.”
When referring to “potential grants,” Richardson is noting the city’s newly-launched, $350,000 fund that will offer $1,500 individual grants to small businesses that have “received some type of loss or damage over the course of the last year,” Richardson noted.
Eligible can begin applying for the mini-grants starting Feb. 22.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include additional quotes from business owners.