Long Beach Needs This (in the Old DTLB Walmart): DTLA’s Grand Central Market

Long Beach Needs This is a series that addresses two things: Long Beach’s infamous “Manhattanitis,” where our people tend to stick to all-things-Long-Beach while rarely stepping outside and two, highlights great accomplishments, spaces, restaurants, and ideas fostered by our worldly neighbors. It is meant to encourage exploration—from taking a step into the the city next door to visiting other parts of the world—and look at how they successfully implement things, create great food and community, or just view life through a different lens. To see all the Long Beach Needs This posts, click here.

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Photos by Brian Addison.

The story of Grand Central Market in DTLA is a storied one—one that will mark 100 years since immigrants, from Mexican to Italian, Japanese to Armenian, made their mark on the Los Angeles landscape with their humble offerings of homeland delicacies and ingredients down in the basement.

Meanwhile, at street level, there are tenants that have been there for decades—long before the gentrification moved directly into the market—such as Michoacán-inspired Tacos Tumbras or Hong Kong-centric China Cafe that serves one of the best wonton soups this side of the Atlantic. And there are new ones, part of the ongoing evolution of the market: Mario Batali’s Belcampo, the never-not-a-line Eggslut (which, if you’re ever in Sin City, has a location without the hoard of Angelenos waiting), and a cheese shop slingin’ out a spectacular grilled cheese at $9.

Even more bizarre, it all seemingly works together, the accessible and the higher-end.

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Don’t get me wrong: the gentrification of the market is real and, to some degree, might be detrimental toward the legacy tenants that have long stood by its side, even through its most struggling of decades. Since 2013, 23 new vendors have invaded the space—that’s two-thirds of the 38 stalls. But what makes essentially the market work is its mixture of everything.

And this concept is not just something Long Beach needs but something that would be a perfect fit for the former Walmart space at City Place in DTLB. In the age where box stores are shuttering doors and opening online portals, leasing massive spaces such as that one is becoming not just difficult but outright unbefitting for this age.

Even better will be bourgeoning cottage businesses not wanting to deal with the hassle of their own brick-and-mortar but wanting their own space. Even more, chances of success increase if they have other businesses nearby that will draw shoppers maybe not knowing of their own business or not interested until they see the product for themselves—one of the magic keys of Grand Central Market.

Perhaps, however, the most pertinent magic key of Grand Central Market is what I mentioned before: its plethora of distinctly unique vendors that work seemingly side-by-side with each other. And if that spirit doesn’t reek of Long Beach, well, I don’t know what does.

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