Lasher’s Kitchen in Belmont Shore closes up shop: ‘There just isn’t enough traffic’

Editor’s note: This piece has been updated with quotes from the owner.

With less than two years of service, Lasher’s Kitchen in Belmont Shore will be serving up its final plates throughout the month of July before formally closing up shop.

Announced formally on Lasher’s social media, the missive said that “the time has come. After 22 years of restaurant ownership and three restaurant openings, we are preparing to say good-bye.”

Ray Lasher, the owner, had candid words when discussing the closure with the Post.

“There is no single point-of-blame, no effigy to hang,” Lasher said. “There just isn’t enough traffic for us to make money; Belmont Shore has remained stable in the population, not welcoming in new people. On top of this, across the board there are fixed and variable expenses that continue to rise—so without the traffic needed to sustain our model and, from a business angle, it simply doesn’t make sense… Again, there is no one to blame; it was our idea, our choice to get back into this and, unfortunately, it just didn’t get to the point we wished it had.”

For Lasher, Long Beach is “diversifying”—and that is a good thing, according to his own logic. He points toward the booming Downtown food scene—”Sure, it has some misses, but, man, it also has some great hits”—and the Long Beach Exchange project that has seen an influx of new culinary concepts move into the east side.

“I could bring in some investment and re-conceptualize Lasher’s Kitchen—the space is there, it’s beautiful, it’s built-out—but I just don’t have that available to me right now,” Lasher said. “For the right person, though, someone willing to come in with something new and attractive to locals, the space is great.”

The second iteration of Lasher’s from restauranteur Ray Lasher and Chef Raquel “Roq” Jubran, was a welcomed addition to the Belmont Shore scene: With Nick’s and Roe being the main anchors of a food scene that has seen a roller-coaster of shifts and alterations, the fact that a former Long Beach food staple would be opening on Second Street was met with cheers.

For sixteen years, Lasher—and, later on, Jubran, who cemented the restaurant’s creole-meets-contemporary cuisine—helped keep Lasher’s Restaurant, where The Attic currently sits, as one of the city’s most respected restaurants. Closing their doors in 2012, the family, which own the property The Attic is on, stayed local but moved onto other endeavors before resurfacing in the spring of 2017 on one of the busiest stretches of road in Long Beach.

“[Broadway] was a great spot, but it was time for me to move on,” Lasher told the Post when opening his newer version in Belmont Shore. “I got an offer I couldn’t refuse from Steve Massis and the people at The Attic. The family was supportive because it was a good situation, we knew he would be very successful there—which he is. He’s done a great job in maintaining the property, he’s a good tenant—for us, it’s been a win-win situation.”

It was then that Lasher overtook a location previously owned by Diane Tran, who owned a number of Vietnamese restaurants and, citing her fill of success, wanted to move on. Lasher engineered a meeting and developed a buyout, but at the last minute, the other client backed out of the sale, making Lasher’s 2.0 a reality.

“Not only was Diane upset, but I had spent a few months on this and was really invested on seeing it through, it was a really good deal, it was well setup,” Lasher said at the time. “I negotiated with Diane that I would buy the place. And much to the surprise to many family members, I came home and said, ‘We’re back in the restaurant business—here we go again’.”

Speculation behind the closure can run the gamut: Second Street hasn’t really seen a solid tenant make a mark food-wise for nearly a decade since Nick’s moved in and Roe opened its full brick-and-mortar; both of which are beginning to show their age in terms of menu offerings. Meanwhile, newer tenants like Saint & Second have failed to make statements culinary-wise.

“There’s nothing inherently wrong with the Shore,” Lasher said. “Demographically, it’s truly a great place. And I know, from an industry perspective, this isn’t a good thing for Belmont Shore; me leaving. ‘If Lasher’s can’t make it, who will?’ I am sure they’ll ask. But we have to be honest about the Shore: it needs a new identity. It needs to move into this century if it wants to be a part of glory days it once had.”

Brian Addison is a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or on social media at FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

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