Photos by Brian Addison.
Winter is coming so the beer belly is in.
After years of speculation and salivating hope and nearly a year of construction,it is official: K-Town’s famed Beer Belly—home to duck fries, pork cheek chili, and other decadent essentials—is opening its second location not in LA but right here in Long Beach at the building that adpative reuse guru Jan van Dijs (the guy behind the Psychic Temple and Edison Apartments and Berlin/Fingerprints and the Art Theatre and, and, and…) oversaw.
It will officially open November 11 and, according to owner Jimmy Han, have a couple of random soft openings this weekend. (Good luck on that one, folks.)
Sitting at the corner of 3rd and Long Beach Blvd., what used to be a massive furniture store is now home to some of the city’s most unique and identifiable hubs of retail and gastronomy: Rainbow Juices, Beachwood’s Blendery, Recreational Coffee, Howl, and now, Beer Belly.
Jimmy and wife/partner Yume Han have been keeping their mouths relatively sealed until now about their new 2,800 sq. ft. space—and we’re glad they did because the interior is nothing short of spectacular.
Headed by MAKE ARCHITECTURE, the restaurant features freestanding wood and masonry details, including witty nods to Long Beach’s nautical history. Check out the main bar: clad in an undulating blackened metal with various cuts, light emanates from internally lit glass shelves providing blades of light that seemingly float weightlessly along the surface of the crinkled wall that connects the ends of the space.
“MAKE ARCHITECTURE drew inspiration from the existing exposed douglas fir wood truss ceiling to create an architectural feature,” said Paul Choi of Beer Belly. “The wood framing’s repetitive nature was the basis for the continuous skeletal forms emanating from the ceiling. Adjacent to the bar, full-height skeletal walls march through one end of the space and provide the spatial definition of the booths. Opposite the bar, added douglas fir members chamfer down from the ceiling and become floating table tops at bar area.”
Even better? Those who sign up on their email list will score a $1 draft beer—and we’re not just talkin’ any brew but some of the best craft beer around. 24 to be exact. (And let’s not forget, oh thirsty ones, a full-liquor license and beverage program that will bring seasonal cocktails featuring farmer’s market-driven libations, in addition to experimental drinks that can be ordered exclusively at a secondary bar in the back of the restaurant.)
And just as importantly, the food?
“The menu at Beer Belly Long Beach promises to deliver on a completely different flavor experience from Koreatown,” Choi said.
Chef Wes Lieberher—who also headed the flagship Beer Belly’s menu as well as Whiz—offers an entirely new menu will feature altered versions of the essential plates that made Beer Belly famous while bringing on some plates that will only be served here.
An example? The BLVD Burger: beef patty, candied bacon slaw, sharp cheddar, arugula, hot smoke mayo, and (an optional but we suggest not avoiding it) sunny side egg.
Beer Belly has built a name for itself on two fronts since it opened in K-Town in 2011: its dedication to craft brews and its equally strong dedication to great grub. Take their “Crap for Craft” event where—you guessed it—you can bring in what they call “crap beer” from giants like Bud and Miller and, for one cent, get a pour of locally crafted hop’n’malt goodness. (Which makes sense: the Hans hired the cicerone Christina Perozzi—the chick behind Santa Monica’s epic beer offerings at Father’s Office—to train Beer Belly staff.)