Monday, April 22, 2024

Introducing the first tenants from Long Beach’s locally-owned ghost kitchen, Partake Collective

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The announcement of the Partake Collective—a locally-owned and -operated set of ghost kitchens taking over the southeast corner of 5th and Elm in DTLB—came as doubly large news: On one hand, the space which used to house MHA’s Village finally had a new purpose and, on the other, local chefs could have a ghost kitchen which would provide them an option outside the highly corporatized versions which already exist.

By creating a locally-owned, locally-operated space that isn’t just a ghost kitchen, but a dining hall and market space where tenants can sell their product, where patrons can experience the food from something other than a styrofoam tray in their office, and those dollars swirling that ecosystem can stay local.And now, they are ready to announce their first lineup of tenants that will serve as the first businesses use the space to churn out food for the Long Beach community.

To kick off their soon-to-happen opening in the coming months, Partake has formally signed leases with:

Mochi Dochi

Brother-team Ted and Tae Choi opened their first location of their mochi-dog mini-empire in L.A. in 2019 before setting their eyes on how to break in to the Long Beach market. Made-to-order mochi dogs come with any combination of three made-from-scratch batters, eight different fillings, and five toppings. And, of course, no mochi-centric would be complete without mochi donuts, which they also serve.

Bubu Teryaki

Owners Ethan and Jeana of Don’s BBQ Teriyaki in Harbor City are expanding their presence by bringing their popular teriyaki, katsu, and other fast-casual Japanese-inspired plates to the Long Beach food scene.

Meals Dot Kom

A meal prep service created by partners Rasmey Kom and Crystal Miller, the pair had one goal in mind: to help family and friends build a healthier lifestyle through balanced eating. Inspired by “homemade recipes passed down through family gatherings and barbecues,” their hope is that these meals will help you more easily progress through a busy work week while sustaining energy and not stressing over food.

Vegan Thai Kitchen

Lastly and certainly not least, a spin-off of DTLB’s massively popular Thai District, partners Ty Theara & Andre Angles created Vegan Thai Kitchen in response to the growing interest in vegan cooking while connecting with their existing Thai District patronage.

Thai District

Oh, and speaking of Thai District? They will also be opening a traditional version of their restaurant in the ghost kitchen to help offset the massive amount of to-go orders they receive at their Broadway and Linden location so that kitchen can focus more on face-to-face, sit-down patrons.

What is perhaps most respectful about Partake’s tenant selection process is the fact that it was a process, mind you, that wasn’t created in a silo. Instead, it was a collection of conversations between businesses and Partake, with the latter listening heavily to the former.

“Many of the chefs we spoke to had just simple questions about what concerns every small business owner: money—and how to maximize the use of it in a space like Partake,” said Adam Carrillo, vice president of Sunstone Management, owner of the Partake space, and CEO of the Partake Collective. “These conversations really forced use to shift how we create our lease agreements so we could be more flexible… It basically became a question of, first and foremost, how are we creating access and opportunity?”

This type of collaboration goes beyond entrepreneurs with the capital and concept to back them up: Partake has participated in many job fairs and meet-and-greets with Long Beach high schoolers and students from Long Beach City College to see what they need in order to start making the first steps toward creating their own food business.

“Approaching how we can look at every single business function is an essential part to who we are,” Carrillo said. “Of course, we have to mitigate risk—but first and foremost, we want to provide access and opportunity. Those two words are key.”

This also means a case-by-case relationship basis: Partake is more than willing to hear each small business owner’s desires and needs, but Partake will also take the time to look at their concept, help them hone it, and also, if need be, tell them they need to do a little more homework before stepping into the world of ghost kitchens.

“If for example, you, as a business owner, want to create the most revenue as possible while also obviously building your team, we want to work with you to figure that out,” Carrillo said. “Does that mean we need to change our operating hours? These are the questions we will be asking likely six or seven months after we open because we need to know how our tenants are using our spaces and what works best for them.”

This results in not just concepts that work well out of a ghost kitchen—like a meal prep service such as Meals Dot Kom—but for existing brick-and-mortar businesses that are feeling the pandemic weight of how much energy their kitchens use on to-go items now.

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Thai District is the perfect example for this: The popularity of the space has grown to such an extent that the owners feel slightly overwhelmed at how much to-go options are overshadowing the experience being had by those dining at tables.

With an entirely separate kitchen dedicated solely to to-go orders, the owners can not only focus on their brick-and-mortar experience more even-handedly but also experiment with new concepts—hence the creation of their vegan concept, Vegan Thai Kitchen.Of course, this is just the first step for Partake—and while important, it is going to take much more participation from both the community and the administrators behind Partake to create what they hope to be a thriving ghost kitchen.And Partake is up for the challenge.

“I feel like when people see Partake in the press, they are generally happy about it—something like, ‘That’s a cool concept,'” Carrillo said. “But something I don’t think they genuinely understand is how beneficial it will be for the entire city to grow our food scene.”

The Partake Collective is located at 456 Elm St.

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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