Thursday, May 30, 2024

Plunge LBC permanently closes as owner of Liv’s takes over 1900 Ocean space with Hartland’s concept

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Plunge LBC’s closure just a handful of weeks ago was a rather sad notice for residents of the 1900 Ocean tower and neighborhood alike—but Rob White, the owner of Belmont Shore’s underrated oyster bar that is Liv’s, hopes to bring something different with his Hartland’s concept.

Wait—Plunge LBC at 1900 Ocean closed? What was it?

Plunge LBC—the wine bar-meets-restaurant joint that as at the 1900 Ocean residential tower—provided a space that no one else did in the city before shuttering about a month ago: An indoor eatery that provided elevated, unobstructed views of the palms, beach, and ocean. Sitting just west of Cherry Avenue on the coastline, this hidden gem of a restaurant was once filled with great food that matched those stellar views.

Then-owner Randy Kolstad was not only one of the most down-to-earth folks you’d, he created an enclave for food lovers wishing to escape the concrete metropolis of Ocean Boulevard and enjoy an almost secretive space: There was wine you can score by various sizes through an incredible system that allowed you to use a money-loaded card to disperse what you want in any amount. There was some solid comfort food—a pastrami on rye, mac’n’cheese, and what not.

And the vibe of being in a residential space like 1900 Ocean made it somehow feel vibey-er. It could be said that perhaps the most important bit of it all, you had tower residents coming in to either fill up on wine themselves or lounge around because, well, you’re in their apartment complex. This prompted the most wonderful array of random conversations amid some solid grub.

And White wants to harness that spatial and social energy but with an entirely different concept dubbed Hartland’s.

So what is Hartland’s and how does is differ from Plunge LBC?

“No, there will not be oysters,” White said laughing, giving a nod to his much-loved-yet-underrated Belmont Shore restaurant, Liv’s. “And while I love that Liv’s a growing patronage that comes in regularly and loves the menu, with Hartland’s, I want to bring something different.”

For White, he hopes to create a cross-blend of something like Santa Monica’s Hillstone—where a hefty focus on fish, salads, burgers…—with the added love of chill via Long Beach. The experience he holds—previously owning Chicken Bodega before taking on Liv’s—could very well uplift him and his Hartland’s crew to places where, despite the quality, Plunge couldn’t.

“Think about what Nick’s on 2nd does but more of a place you could eat at three or four times a week at—a Californian sensibility type of vibe,” White said. “A place where you can still get a burger but also offer things like steak tartare or whole branzino. Maybe one pasta? Not a crazy pasta program but an offering nonetheless. My sous chef at Liv’s used to work at Michael’s on Naples so it would be hard not to pass that talent up.”

Given the opportunity to take over the space at the Frank Suryan-owned tower, White saw nothing but possibilties—even the potential hurdle that finding the place could be tricky: The owners of Plunge had a hard time conveying to the public where they were exactly but patronage of a space like this—one on a floor of a private residential tower—depends on really connecting with the thousands of nearby residents that can just walk over.

And White understands that.

“We expect some people to come from afar to visit but we’re really wanting to rely on both the residents in the tower itself and residents in the neighborhood directly surrounding us, ” White said.

And in the future, yes, you can expect a full bar at Hartland’s and a patio

White is currently in the midst of getting his beer and wine license—meaning the full liquor license that was attached to Plunge was held onto by the owners—but White is hopeful about getting a full liquor license. This would be on top of selling beer and wine (along with to-go food items) at the space’s market-slash-cafe, much in the way Plunge did prior, which White hopes to have open by June 14.

“There’s been talks with the owners about purchasing a license for the building itself,” White said, hinting that despite which business is in operation or leaving—be it Plunge or Hartland’s or [insert here]—if the full liquor license is attached to the building, any business operating within it could use it. And if this comes to fruition, that would mean a bar for residents and the neighborhood that is, well, unlike any other.

Perhaps the most obvious alteration will be the inclusion of 1900 Ocean’s incredible patio space, largely unused or advertised: Sitting at the southeast corner of the building and still overlooking the beach, it will act as sunset destination.

“Ultimately—and I know this sounds cheesy—we just want to be a part of the neighborhood,” White said. “Sincerely be a part of it. And we think we can achieve that with Hartland’s.”

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Count us in.

Hartland’s is located on the second floor of 1900 Ocean Blvd. Its cafe is slated to open June 14 with the restaurant space following.

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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