Taking over the massive, 7,000-square-foot space formerly occupied by Forbidden City, JADE officially opened its doors.
Abruptly announcing its closure in November of last year, Chinese restaurant Forbidden City followed what was a long string of restaurant closures in Long Beach over the past year. Given its expansive, museum-like footprint in Marina Pacifica, it seemed unlikely a tenant, let alone one within a few months, would take over the space.
Enter Rod Frontino, the investor behind both of Chef Arthur Gonzalez’s restaurants—Panxa Cocina in Belmont Heights and Roe in Belmont Shore—as well as DOGZ Bar and Grill in the Shore.
JADE will maintain the Asian-centric theme and decor of its predecessor while also providing a few upgrades.
“The decor of the space is truly beautiful,” Frontino said. “We had little work to do as we moved around the space; just touch-ups here and there. The decor was the inspiration behind the name. The previous owners [Michael Brausen and Gao Yan] had a lotus blossom fountain hand-carved from a jade boulder.”
That nine-ton jade boulder from northern China that eventually became the 5,000-pound fountain in the front of the restaurant, is one of the many collectibles Brausen and Yan brought back to Long Beach after spending two months in the Forbidden City as well as eight other Chinese metros. In fact, their collection of Chinese works filled three, 40-foot containers filled to the brim with 66 tons of goods that included hand-carved marble pieces, giant Fu Dog sculptures, onyx tables and silk lampshades.
It was a space that Frontino not only enjoyed but frequented and the news of his friends having to close up shop hit home—hence his excitement over JADE’s grand opening.
“They’re my friends, good friends,” Frontino said. “And in this type of business climate, where we’re seeing space after space close, I figured I could offer something that pays homage to what [Michael and Gao] achieved while creating something that is perhaps more sustainable.”
Frontino’s vision of simultaneously honoring the past but moving forward involves tinkering with the menu—think Pan-Asian meets American steakhouse—and utilizing the underused, marina-facing patio for future brunches.
Bottomless rosé, dumplings, and views of Alamitos Bay? Bring it.
JADE is located at 6380 East Pacific Coast Highway.
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