Images courtesy of SteelCraft.
The first-ever food court made of shipping containers in Los Angeles County will be erected in Long Beach come early 2016, and everything we know about it so far is making us want to dance. Beer, ramen, waffles, flowers, locally-sourced produce and coffee all rolled into one very innovative design concept, à la SteelCraft, is Bixby Knolls’ next major craft-focused endeavor.
“With the Port of Long Beach being one of the world's busiest seaports, supporting over a million jobs nationally and generating billions of dollars in economic activity each year, it seemed only fitting to utilize shipping containers for the build out,” said SteelCraft developer and Cal Heights resident, Kim Gros.
You really can’t get more Long Beach than that. Set to go in on the corner of Long Beach Boulevard and Bixby Road, SteelCraft is ready and waiting to be the destination for you to get your grub on and enjoy a straight-up great time with your beer-guzzling buddies and tight-knit community acquaintances.
“This will be a major coup for the boulevard,” said Blair Cohn, Executive Director of the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association, which played a major hand in pushing the project. “It will activate and bring attention to the businesses that are already there (Long Beach Cyclery & Five Starr Pilates). Plus, it will be a great destination for those working along [Long Beach Boulevard] for a place to gather and eat throughout the day. And of course, [it’s] a major destination for the neighborhood. [It will be] easy to walk or to ride a bike to the site.”
Gros’ concept has been in the making for quite some time now. She says the idea for SteelCraft came from a desire to see people congregate over good food and drinks in a compelling environment thoughtfully and creatively designed. A couple of those thoughtful details include the tables being made of reclaimed wood and the ability for guests to lock their bikes to racks composed of 96 percent recycled materials.
Gros and Brian Ulaszewski of Long Beach-based City Fabrick had been working on the project for years, and months continued to fly by as they searched to find a suitable location in downtown Long Beach, to no avail, when Cohn suggested the use of Martin Howard’s lot on Bixby Road and Long Beach Boulevard.
The idea stuck, and now Howard’s company, Howard CDM, responsible for the design work and construction of three Michael’s Restaurant Group locations in Long Beach (Chianina, Michael’s on Naples and Michael’s Pizzeria) will serve as general contractor, while DeMaria Design Assoc. will serve as architect on the project.
“The concept started with just one container (serving ice cream), and has evolved into 10 shipping containers arranged to create a series of outdoor spaces including dining patios and community space,” said Gros.
Moving into the containers, which are being fabricated courtesy of IPME (International Port Management Enterprise) in Gardena, CA, are Long Beach eateries and drinkeries alongside a handful of popular establishments from neighboring cities. Torrance-based Smog City Brewing, for one, will be moving in with a satellite taproom, a mirror of their current tap room's lineup.
According to Smog City spokeswoman Laurie Porter, the space will have “approximately 15 taps, lots of pilot beer and experimentals and, of course, our tried and true trusty core line-up. We’ll also offer growler fills and bottle sales.”
Porter says that setting up shop at SteelCraft will bring Smog City closer to their already supportive Long Beach customer base and give them a chance to be partnered with some excellent food vendors.
“The one thing our taproom lacks is food, and this allows us to focus on what we do best, beer, and to piggy-back on what they do best, food,” said Porter. “Win Win.”
SteelCraft’s food vendors were selected with the following criterium in mind: a profound understanding of the craft of making food, a deep love for the craft and for the food and an innate consideration for those who will eat the food, according to Gros.
“This is obvious at every step: selection of ingredients, care of process and joy in presenting it to others,” she told the Post.
John and Rany Aguirre opened Steelhead Coffee in Cal Heights nearly eight months ago and will be opening a second location at SteelCraft in a 20-foot container running alongside Long Beach Boulevard. The duo plan to craft additional offerings not available at their brick and mortar.
“We hope that folks accustomed to our Cal Heights location can continue their Steelhead ritual when visiting SteelCraft, as well as venture to experience innovative menu offerings not seen at our brick and mortar, and vise versa,” said Rany. “Our first thoughts were that the concept was amazingly innovative and we are lucky to have a place like Steelcraft in our city and community.”
“This project has been years in the making, it's pretty exciting to see it come together with an opening date within reach (early 2016),” said Gros.