The Red Leprechaun has served as the food focal point of the Zaferia district while also becoming a local staple with its contemporary takes on Irish and English classics—and after seven years, owner Tracy Ames has decided to not renew her lease as was first reported in the Grunion Gazette.
“I’ve been wanting to sell it for a bit now,” Ames told the Post. “I actually wanted a partner to come in on it with me but nothing seemed to pan out… After my broker called me and told me we had a buyer, it was simply too good to pass up on.”
That new owner, someone Ames said she knows, will keep the space a restaurant—something she noted was “the main thing of importance is that Zaferia will continue to have a place to patronize”—but details about what they plan on doing were slim.
For Ames, the time has simply come to take a break.
“This isn’t about a lack of business or an evil landlord or any of that. I just catered an event for the mayor last week,” she said. “I just need a break… Losing my [94-year-old] mom put things in perspective so I am going to Ireland, going to explore my roots.”
As to whether she has any immediate future plans, Ames repeated “Ireland” and left it at that—and as someone who has written extensively about the restaurant scene here in Long Beach, including closures, this line of stepping away felt refreshing. Restaurateurs and small business owners are often stressed: Appeasing customers, respecting regulars, and supporting the local culture—be it through volunteering for organizations, donating to nonprofits, or participating in events—can be taxing and, despite the feel-good spirit behind it all, detrimental if taken in too much.
For Ames, The Red Leprechaun was more than just her small business; it launched her into a deep involvement with the entirety of the Zaferia district, hopping on the business association, serving as president over the past five years, and expanding the district’s appeal and investment.
In 2012, the eastern stretch of Anaheim Street’s Zaferia—roughly from Junipero Avenue to bit east of Redondo Avenue—lacked an anchor outside of Los Compadres, fresh off the expansion from their original-but-tiny Pine Avenue restaurant. With few other options, Los Compadres was consistently packed to the extent that attempting to get in on a weekend or dinner night proved taxing.
“The area clearly needed more,” Ames said. “I saw an opportunity and seized it.”
That opportunity allowed Ames to show off her culinary skills: Endless plates of shepard’s pie, bangers’n’mash, fish and chips, and crab cakes offered East Long Beach the chance to experience English and Irish food at a level that only the Auld Dubliner was serving up at the time.
For now, her lease runs until the end of the year—so fear not: you’re not too late to experience her corned beef and cabbage, a recipe that Ames has kept to herself for decades.
The Red Leprechaun is located at 4000 E. Anaheim St.
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