Monday, April 22, 2024

Utopia in Downtown Long Beach to shutter after nearly 25 years as a restaurant

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Utopia, the Mediterranean-meets-Italian restaurant at the northwest corner of 1st Street and Linden Avenue in DTLB, will be closing its doors after 24 years of service. Their last day of service will be Oct. 28. before being formally handed over to its new owners, which plan on turning the space into an Indian restaurant.

The announcement was made on Instagram, with the owners writing:

“For the last 24 years we’ve shared a great journey full of great experiences and great moments. Throughout the past 2 decades we celebrated many weddings, baby showers and a few memorial services. We lost quite a few friends along the way, and made many new ones. We hosted over 100 art shows and participated in numerous community events.

“It was a good run. There’s a time to move on. Thank you to our patrons who supported us over the years and special thanks to our Downtown neighborhood.”

Owner Kamran Assadi has long been one of the stewards of the neighborhood Utopia resided in, the East Arts Village—and quite literally a supporter of what it represented: Utopia wasn’t just a restaurant but a revolving gallery of local artists’ work, along with being a cornerstone in a neighborhood that was, at the restaurant’s opening, bourgeoning and trying to separate itself as distinct and unique.

Writer James Scarborough noted that it was “the It Place of the Long Beach cultural community, the place where the local art world goes to congregate, at any given moment you will find congregated in its spacious and airy rooms poets, artists, businessmen, and politicians discussing projects, deals, and legislation.”

And that wasn’t untrue: During its peak, it wouldn’t be uncommon to find everyone from the mayor and councilmembers to nonprofit leaders and artists using the space as both a business and social gathering point.

While it certainly marks the end of an era—and another closure in the East Village as the neighborhood attempts to get its grip back on patronage and business—let’s admit that the opening of an Indian joint is promising for the Downtown: Following the closure of Kabob Curry years ago and Fresh Kabobs closing in December of 2021—the last Indian cuisine space in Downtown—there is a silver lining to hopefully expand DTLB’s culinary offerings.

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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