Downtown Long Beach officially has a reason to celebrate: The former Lupe’s space at 3rd Street and The Promenade, which has been shuttered since January of this year, has officially signed on a new tenant—and it’s from folks who have long been a staple in the DTLB scene.
Jay Krymis and Michel Verdi, husband-and-wife owners of Padre and Mezcalero in DTLB, will be taking on the space, filling a much needed hole at the Mosaic retail-restaurant-residential complex that watched both Lupe’s and its neighbor, Portuguese Bend Distilling, close, with the latter doing so in a dramatic fashion before filing for bankruptcy.
The pair have long been searching for a new home: With the announcement that the building which houses Padre and Mezcalero at 525 E. Broadway will eventually be demolished to make way for a residential development, their entire team has been teetering on when, exactly, the closure would come—leading them on their years long search.
“The space at Mosaic really was a serendipitous happening,” Krymis said, who mentioned he was fearful he would have to find a space outside of DLTB to move Padre—that is, if he was going to move Padre at all or go with an entirely new concept.
In the beautifully direct words of Verdi herself: “It’s a beautiful space where I can have a drink at the outside bar and feel a gust of wind blow across my ass. What is there not to love?”
“Me and the team are kinda divided on what we plan on doing,” Krymis said. “Padre is a strong name in Long Beach and it would make sense for us to simply move it for the brand recognition. But the space at Lupe’s itself is entirely different and we definitely want to alter the feel… We want the space to feel a bit more lived-in, a bit more warm, a bit more casual.”
Krymis and his team are pretty certain of one thing: They aren’t aiming to lift an elevated restaurant from the dead in the space, insisting that DTLB needs places where someone visits multiple times a week rather once every few months—and in all frankness, he is right. Downtown is an essential cog for the entire city but both its neighborhood residents and citywide residents need to have more casual options where a bill for two won’t always been over $100.
“There should be a place in Downtown that has pitchers, that has shareables, that has an extensive happy hour—that’s a hangout more than an elevated space that is held off for special occasions,” Krymis said. “Not a club, not hyper-food-focused space; more like a neighborhood bar with good bites that you love coming to over and over.”
Jay and Michel are no strangers to this: The pair ran FUBAR—arguably West Hollywood’s most antithetical queer bar on Santa Monica to ever exist, eschewing the pretty’n’perfect for the raunchy’n’raw—for almost the entirety of their professional lives before formally closing its doors in the pandemic, only to open another queer joint down the street from FUBAR: Schmitty’s, though having just opened, feels like it’s been a part of Boystown for not just years but decades, where posters celebrating queer rights movements, artists like David Bowie and Cher, and adult coloring books line its walls and tables.
And that feel—something that exudes nostalgia, comfort, lived in-ness—is something DTLB could severely use as it rediscovers its identity post-pandemic.
“Ultimately, whether it’s called Padre or something else, we want it to be for the neighborhood—and for the good and the bad,” Krymis said. “The place you go to celebrate a promotion or the place you go to remember someone you lost. Those types of social spaces are important and essential—and we want to be a part of that.”
The future space will be located at 301 The Promenade N. and they are expected to be open by the end of the year.