Restauration Hopes for Stable Success in a Building that Has Been a Revolving Door for Restaurants

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The heirloom tomato salad with avocado, feta, kalamata olives, pepper, and olive oil. Photos by Brian Addison.

The diner that sits on the south side of 4th Street just east of Ohio Avenue has had many incarnations: there was The Porch, The Hot Spot, 212 Bistro, and most recently, The Patio Bistro. The space itself is filled with potential, particularly given its large patio—a score for any Long Beach restauranteur.

Ultimately, each place failed to gain the foothold that Kafe Neo and Shillelagh to the east and Lola’s and the Pike Bar & Grill have to the west—a point that the owner of Kafe Neo, Gus Sverkos, lamented when casually chatting with me one night about the dream of better connecting 4th street between Temple and Junipero a la Retro Row between Junipero and Cherry.

Restaurant 01Enter Restauration, the longtime dream of local couple Dana and Rob Robertson.

While past embodiments of the Bluff Heights location have built upon what previously existed, Dana and crew are unapologetic that—outside of the bottomless mimosas on the weekend (because these locals understand Long Beachers’ unquenchable morning thirst)—there is no hint of what had come before.

Keeping with the local and craft trends overtaking food and drink scene, Dana takes her localism seriously: in any aspect that they they can, they create everything in-house or at least score goodies from local purveyors like Farm Lot 59. They serve none other than the coffee-by-bike beans behind Rose Park Roasters. Even the patio space, now completely opened up with sail shades, has a wall dedicated to herbs and greens used for their burgers, pizzas, and pastas.

“I figured if I can’t garden at home, I might as well bring it here,” Dana said. “It’s simply about clean food and good food. Y’know, we don’t have Stella but we have a Victory Pilsner that you would probably love. This is the kind of philosophy that we know people are beginning to appreciate more.”

The appreciation she thinks Long Beach seeks is clear from the moment you approach: the formerly blue-and-gold-trimmed building is now a clean white with hand-painted signing by Long Beach’s Mixt Media Arts. The inside (though not complete finished; “My art hasn’t come in but we can make great food without the art,” Dana said) is just as clean, with hints of grays, blues, and whites, and a lot of restored wood and salvaged old tools from the in-laws.

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A glass of the Bruery’s Mischief paired with the short rib pizza that is topped with peaches, red onion, bleu cheese, watercress, and a balsamic reduction.

The couple even opted to skip a Small Business Association (SBA) loan in favor of going directly through the City—an experience which, they said, was wonderful.

“Andrea Martinez was amazing,” Dana said. “Opening our place couldn’t have been easier—or less expensive. The interest rate with the City was significantly lower than than the SBA… In about six weeks, we were up and running. It was a painless experience.”

Beyond the aesthetic, the Cal Heights couple understands the amenities Long Beachers want. The large side space, which previously housed trash cans, will make way for an expanded place to park bikes as well as act as an entrance for those with their furry, four-legged friends to have instant access to patio. And, unlike the strange hours held by the Patio (closed at 2PM? Huh?) Restauration hopes to cater to the night crowds that are often seen at Kafe Neo and The Social List by staying open until 10:00PM on most nights (they will, however, be closed on Tuesdays).

Restaurant 05Then, of course, there is the food—a far cry from any of the former businesses that served up typical diner fare. Simple and clean, Restauration keeps it common (the aforementioned pizzas and burgers) but not boring.

With the just-installed Forno Bravo wood oven on the patio—where guests can watch Rob practice his pizza skills while they enjoy the outside space—Restauration will offer pizzas like the Endless Summer (ricotta, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and basil from the garden) or the short rib pizza (topped with peaches, bleu cheese, and watercress while drizzled with a balsamic reduction). There’s even a Farm Lot 59 pizza on the way that will serve up what the local operation has to offer seasonally.

While they currently get bread from Seal Beach artisan bakery Crema, they hope to also begin making their own breads and pastries, both of which could be included in the brunch they host beginning at 8:00AM on Saturdays and Sundays with the bottomless mimosas (though we suggest the housemade sangria).

Beginning next Wednesday, the new restaurant will be offering up their happy hour that will run Monday through Thursday thereafter from 3:00PM to 7:00PM. From $4 craft drafts to street tacos and personal-sized pizzas, the happy hour will be a warm welcome to a neighborhood whose nearest happy hour for drinks and food is at Gallagher’s.

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Restauration’s patio, complete with its wall of herbs and greens.

“For right now, we’re just putting all of what we do out there and see how the neighborhood responds,” Dana said. “If they want us open all the time, we’ll do that.”

Restauration is located at 2708 E 4th Street in Bluff Heights.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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