An outpouring of community support and a visit from Mayor Rex Richardson has inspired the father-son duo behind popular barbecue eatery Shady Grove Foods to keep their doors open reversing course on their announcement that they would close at the end of 2023.

“The response from the community was so strong, my son Dennis and I felt well, ‘Let’s give it a try to stay longer,'” said co-owner David Robicheau.

The owners shared plans to close on social media in early December, citing unsuccessful attempts to afford and obtain permits for on-site meat smokers, which severely limited the number of orders they could fulfill.

In an interview with the Post in early December, David Robicheau said he’d tried twice to get the smoker permitted but wasn’t able to.

The Long Beach Health Department said they only received one plan for the business that included the smoker. The department responded with corrections needed to approve the permit, but never heard back from the restaurant, Environmental Health Supervisor Mozhgan Mofidi said in early December.

After reading about the planned closure in the news, Mayor Richardson brought members of the Economic Development Department with him to Shady Grove Foods for lunch and a conversation about how to help the restaurant.

“We tried some food and we talked and we just connected,” Richardson said. “They’re incredibly good people. They love Long Beach, they’re from Long Beach and they really love smoking meat.”

Both Richardson and Robicheau said the conversation was productive, and Robicheau is hopeful the attention will hasten the process to get the smoker permitted. They have begun working with an architect and hope to finish the process by mid-January, according to Robicheau.

Richardson said his conversation with Robicheau was a reminder that many business owners aren’t aware of the support the city offers. In the new year, Richardson said, the city needs to do a better job of telling small businesses about the resources available to them.

Ultimately, the response inspired the Robicheaus to keep the restaurant open through the new year.

Once an on-site smoker is approved, Shady Grove Foods plans to offer an expanded menu. While new dishes haven’t been finalized yet, Robicheau said he’s looking forward to what lies ahead.

While awaiting the permit, the restaurant will operate as usual, but it will close Mondays through Wednesdays during the first two weeks of January for maintenance and repairs.

Shady Grove Foods is at 2708 E. Fourth Street.