Monday, April 22, 2024

Much-loved seafood restaurant Pier 76 permanently closed in Downtown Long Beach

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Pier 76 owner Chef Christopher Krajacic, who built a name for himself by providing fresh seafood he mostly caught himself and served, has announced he will be closing the DTLB space permanently.

“Downtown is honestly just nowhere close to recovering and I can no longer keep it up,” Krajacic said, also noting he has also closed the Cerritos location, leaving one lone Pier 76 in Riverside open. “It pains me but there is little more to what I can do.”

It marks a definitively somber moment in the Long Beach food scene, particularly given how open and caring Krajacic was toward the community during the pandemic: On the night of March 20—just one week after the world went into solitude—Krajacic began filleting and packaging some 1,000 pounds of fish to give away.

Partnering with Ingardia Brother Produce, the massive delivery of wild Opah, Tuna, and Ono was distributed the following day at the very location now shuttered.

After what he called his “test location” inside the Cooper Arms building, Krajacic had built a mighty name for himself in the seafood world: After ditching the famed Walt’s Wharf in Seal Beach to start Pier 76, it wasn’t until he officially moved onto Pine Avenue where his power and extension began.

He opened two more additional locations—one in Cerritos and one in Riverside—amid a boom in popularity as an affordable, healthy, and most of all, delicious place for seafood.

To speak personally, the best part about Krajacic’s style was his perpetual dedication to the cleanliness in his approach to food. Eschewing complicated preparation, his plates were simultaneously simple and complex—and it shone best in plates like his array of fresh fish (again: mostly caught himself) and moule frites.

Pier’s tin bucket of moule frites filled with a hefty heap of freshly steamed California black mussels atop a pile of fries is Krajacic’s take on the seafood classic. I first experienced it at Walt’s Wharf in Seal Beach, which just happened to be under the direction of Krajacic when I had it.

But Pier 76’s version? It will now forever haunt my stomach’s cravings: a white wine broth—beautifully balanced to the point where one could easily use it as a soup—in which the fries happily bathe, mixed with onions, roasted poblano peppers and chunks of bacon.

But perhaps most of what we will all miss was the most important part of Krajacic’s food, noted as an ingredient they listed on their menu: “Pure love.”

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

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