Friday, July 19, 2024

Long Beach Food Scene Intel: Walt’s Wharf catches fire; former Octopus space back up for lease; more

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Long Beach Food Scene Intel is a series from Brian Addison that will recap food news throughout the city, both news that needs just a quick mention or repeated news where you might have missed the full features.


Walt’s Wharf in Seal Beach catches fire

A lotta nearby Orange County food news this week, beginning with a fire that broke out at Seal Beach’s much-loved Walt’s Wharf on Monday. “Firefighters from Engine 44 found smoke showing on their arrival and upgraded the incident to a working fire,” an Orange County Fire Authority Statement read. “Crews initiated a search for occupants and an attack on the fire, isolating it and preventing its extension.”

This isn’t the first time the seafood space has caught aflame: In 1993, the restaurant took on a fire shortly before that year’s Christmas parade along Main Street.


Burritos’n’boba? The expansion of Tito’s on 4th Street has officially opened with a boba shop

Tito’s has undergone massive changes since it switched owners in late 2021 before reopening in February of 2022: Arguments about the original operators versus its newer and different companion are very much a thing to be had in my food group. And many argue those changes are for the good—they’ve added hype-food items like quesabirria—and not-so-good—some feel the overall vibe has shifted.

They have officially finished and opened their expansion, announced late last year, and taking over the westwardly space directly next door to create a frappé/boba spot in the hopes that boba’n’burritos will become a sought after combo. Either way, just happy to see a Long Beach small business expanding rather than selling


Coffee Station opens in Downtown Long Beach

The wildly large Long Beach coffee scene has just expanded even further: Coffee Station, taking over the former Daily Dose space on Pine Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets, hosted its grand opening on Jan. 25, according to the Downtown Long Beach Alliance.

The space—joining independent joints like Recreational, Rose Park, Confidential, Ground Hideout, and Cabinet—is owned by brothers Engin and Alptekin Ozkilic.


Former Octopus space at Broadway & Pine back up for lease

The former Octopus restaurant—and what was supposed to be the too-close-to-three-Ks Kraft & Kulture space that long had signs up about opening mid-pandemic—is back up for lease.

The massive 4,100-square-foot space (with some 3,865 square feet of underground space) is one that will likely be a hard sell as the two spaces are intertwined should one want it to be a restaurant: The sole kitchen is underground. Surely, this proves much more table space on the ground floor—and that certainly appeals to the corporate nature of Pine–but even corporate brands aren’t stepping into massive spaces like this as of late. That being said, there is some creative capital to be garnered here with its potential speakeasy space below…


Margherita Mondays return, new Tuesdays “Brooklyn Nights” unveiled at Michael’s on Naples

Margherita Mondays—part of the Michael’s empire back in the day when Michael’s Downtown and Michael’s on Naples were more directly connected—have returned to the Naples location, where guests can score a half-off margherita pizza when they order another pizza.

Also, Chef Eric Samaniego will heavily draw from the Italian-American dishes that have to come to define what Americans think of as Italian food: from polpette della Nonna (“Grandma’s meatballs”) and chicken park to cannolis, the menu will be an ode to Italian-American food each and every Tuesday.


Los Alamitos staple Pasty Kitchen expanded presence slightly halted

Back onto that Orange County food news thang: Pasty Kitchen, the Los Al staple that has been in existence since 1963, was looking to celebrate its 60th anniversary with style by opening its first additional location in Cypress, followed by Huntington Beach in 2024.

That has been slightly halted: Its Cypress location on Ball Road has had its singage up and front-facing façade complete for months after it has planned to open in October of last year. Until then, luckily and unlike the rest of Orange County, we still have its much-closer Los Alamitos location.


Chain Roll ‘Em Up quietly removed from “in development” Long Beach, Lakewood locations

Roll ‘Em Up, the hype-food-meets-‘Bertos-rolled-tacos-wannabe concept that has pseudo-flourished across the past five years, has yet to live up to its goal of opening “500 Californian locations”—and that includes its Long Beach and Lakewood locations, which have been quietly removed (along with the majority of its proposed locations) from their site’s “in development” list.

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The company’s CEO Ryan Usrey announced a massive expansion into Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties back in 2022 when the brand had zero presence in any of them: Upcoming sites included Long Beach, Lakewood, Downey, Whittier, Glendale, and Covina in Los Angeles County; none of those locations have opened though one in Bell Gardens did open and Glendale (along with Northridge), remain in development . Beyond Los Angeles County, restaurant group The Aurora Group planned to open locations in Corona, Eastvale, Riverside, Temecula, Menifee, Lake Elsinore, Hemet, Murrieta, Moreno Valley, Perris, and El Cerrito; none have opened despite promises to open its first location two years ago.


(Yet another chain) Uncle Sharkii to open Long Beach location

Speaking of chain franchises: Poke chain Uncle Sharkii announced on Instagram it would be opening a Long Beach location at Towne Center shortly before the New Year (and as later reported by Caitlin Antonios).

The saturation of poke spots in Long beach harkens to the ramen-ocalypse and hot chicka-geddon of past years: We have absolutely stellar (and owned-by-Hawaiian) spots like Poke Pub and Poke Pola. There’s Poke2 Grill. Poke Bar. Poke & More. Ahipoki. Poke Plus…

Never thought there would be Poke Wars but 2024 is already proving to be a wild card—we’ll take it.


ICYMI: Long Beach scores its first set of James Beard semifinalists

Following the announcement that Gusto Bread is a semifinalist for Outstanding Bakery, the James Beard Awards—the nation’s most prestigious food honors—put forth Chef Dima Habibeh of Ammatolí and Chefs Stefano and Michael Procaccini of La Parolaccia as semifinalists for Best Chef in California. 

The chef categories are broken up geographically, with California having a category to its own, where finalist nominations will be announced on April 3.

Read the full article here.


ICYMI: EA Seafood Restaurant is the old-school Cantonese neighborhood space Long Beach longs for

EA Seafood—the Chinese joint that took over the former Kinokawa space on Wardlow—comes from Nomad Bistro veterans and harkens to the old-school Cantonese spaces that permeate our neighbors to the north and south.

There’s the life seafood in bright blue tanks. An insanely affordable and fulfilling array of 30-plus lunch specials. Crab meat with fish maw soup. Peking duck with steam buns and oyster sauce. Hainan chicken. Squid or shrimp bathed in a bright orange batter before being fried and tossed in spicy salt. Duck soup with pickled veggies.

This is no fuss Chinese food, the kind that makes you feel comforted—and not just by the fact that you don’t have to trek to L.A. or Orange County to get it but that each plate is made fresh by Chef Jerry Wu himself, who is just longing to create a genuinely accessible and affordable Cantonese space in Cal Heights.

Read the full article here.


ICYMI: The Ordinarie’s late-night menu is on ode to post-partying munchies

Still recovering from the absurdity that is Miracle—where bartenders and kitchen staff saw records being broken nearly weekly in sales—The Ordinarie Executive Chef Nick DiEugenio and his kitchen have created a late night bites menu that is nothing short of an ode to the post-partying munchies.

From chili cheese fries and a play on Taco Bell’s crunch wrap supreme to arguably the city’s best patty melt, this late night menu is awesome.

Read the full article here.

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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