Dan Tapia injured his neck while serving in the Navy, an injury made worse during a cross country bicycle ride when the veteran was hit by a big rig. After months of physical therapy, Tapia underwent an unsuccessful surgery in 2002 to fuse two vertebrae, but was further injured during the procedure and woke up a quadriplegic.
After months of rehab, Tapia can walk, but not without pain or the assistance of a cane.
Anxious to rejoin the workforce, he landed a position as a sommelier at a prestigious Beverly Hills restaurant, but was let go because of the eatery’s unwillingness to accommodate his needs. On that very day, he decided to take matters into his own hands and open up a restaurant himself.
Long Beach was chosen as the location for 4th and Olive, situated at 743 East 4th Street. The space is slated to to open in late October with construction to begin next week.
“I decided to open my own restaurant the day I was let go from my sommelier position, and to create jobs for other vets that may have experienced a similar situation,” Tapia said in a statement. “I certainly can’t discriminate against myself, and I’m going to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else under my watch!”
Tapia has sent up a GoFundMe page to raise funds to help with additional opening costs, including the training of staff that is willing to, but may have never worked in the restaurant industry. Click here for more information or to donate.
4th and Olive will be a Franco-German beer and wine garden, serving Alsatian-style food. This will be the place to go for a good beer paired with sausage and a pretzel under the high-reaching rafters of the beer hall-like space. Spaetzli, schnitzel and kraut are just a few more of the comfort foods of the region that will be served and made fresh daily.
Not only is Tapia making strides in the restaurant business, he’s also planning on running in the Long Beach Summer Fiesta Half Marathon to take place on Saturday, September 5. Chronic pain is no match for this determined veteran.
“I’m taking part in the Summer Fiesta Half Marathon to call attention to the challenges these vets face when they are willing and capable of doing just as good a job as an able-bodied person,” said Tapia in a statement.
Images courtesy of Terri Henry Marketing. Photo of Dan Tapia taken before permits were received for the building.