BY: NIKI VALENCIA
Welcome to the Shore, Belmont Shore that is. A place where you can stroll the streets this winter season and become enticed with the bright Christmas lights, green and red holiday décor and furry reefs on almost every lamp-post on the street. While Christmas decorations in Belmont Shore have been coming up since the start of November, local businesses have recently been closing down.
Belmont is a lovely beach zone surrounded with multiple shops, boutiques, salons and restaurants, but it's also been the constant site of businesses coming, going and changing.
For starters, the card-boarded covered windows of the recently closed 24-hour Shore House café. The café closed earlier in the year for renovations, but is now closed indefinitely, disappointing weekend bar crawlers in the mood for a late-night meal.
"Businesses are always coming and going. It's sad when the mom-and-pop stores close and corporate ones move in," said Darlene Smiley, Belmont Shore resident of 20 years. "But it's nice at the same time because the corporate businesses stay."
Taking over the former Shore House café will be another restaurant by the name of Simmzy's – a gourmet-style pub offering salads, burgers, sandwiches and 30 craft beers on tap.
"The menu will be the same as the Manhattan Beach location, plus wood fire Italian-style pizza's that are really good," said Mike Simms, owner of Simmzy's. "Each item is focused on high quality in a casual environment."
Simms is no stranger to the restaurant industry as his father and grandfather are the founders of the well-known restaurant chain Mimi's Café.
"I was born into it [the business]," continued Simms.
The beach-lovers themed eatery is set to open in spring 2012 after renovations have been completed. "We're working with an award-winning architect for the building," explained Simms.
Another Belmont Shore staple with family-ties to also close in November is Bono's Restaurant, owned by Christy Bono, daughter of the late Sonny Bono.
Bono's will be replaced by another high-end restaurant – Nick's on Second Street. According to the restaurant's website, it is set to open in spring 2012, as well.
The restaurant businesses in Belmont are not the only ones experiencing changes. Popular late-night bars, Legends and Panama Joes, lately began to charge cover prices for bar-goers after 11 p.m. on the weekends, upsetting many consistent customers.
"I wouldn't pay. It's not worth it when I could just go somewhere else," said Roxanna Rubio, CSULB student.
In addition to cover charges, the bars in Belmont Shore have been in an on-going debate with neighborhood associations who are not pleased with the late-night activities of bar-goers on their streets.
"The home owners are grumpy and trying to get the bars to close at midnight," said Ellie Bluemel, bartender at Acapulco Inn.
Acapulco Inn also underwent a recent change with the opening of their kitchen.
"We now serve breakfast, it's called the Dirtbag Deli," continued Bluemel.
More transformations in the Belmont scenery include the closing of Paul Sahlin Tiffany's Incorporated, also known as Paul's Lamps, and 5001 furniture store.
Despite the ever-changing climate of business in Belmont, one thing remains the same, and that's the sense of community among the businesses and workers in the area.
"I'll miss the girls at Shore House, they were our late night customers," said Emily Bryson, employee at the Starbucks on Second Street. "The good part about working in Belmont is there's a sense of commodity. We take care of each other and we're really friendly."
While Long Beach and Belmont locals say good-bye to a few Belmont businesses, the area still promises a charm that will continue into this holiday season as it welcomes new businesses in the coming year with high hopes.
"We're all about being a great neighbor," added Simms.