The owners of Shady Grove Foods have announced their popular barbecue restaurant on Fourth Street will close today, potentially marking the end of a tumultuous saga over whether or not they would stay open in the face of permitting problems.

Father-and-son duo David and Dennis Robicheau opened Shady Grove Foods in May of 2022, but a series of setbacks including a delay in getting the doors open and problems getting permission for an on-site smoker put them on the back foot.

In December 2023, the Robicheaus announced they would close at the end of the year leading to an outpouring of community support, an article in Longbeachize and a visit from Mayor Rex Richardson.

At the time, Richardson told the Long Beach Post he decided to visit the restaurant after reading the Longbeachize article, which claimed the city offered the restaurant little help to sustain itself and “after an absurdly lengthy signing off process, their Santa Maria grill was later deemed impermissible, forcing the Shady crew to smoke off-site.”

Health Department officials said the grill was never permitted, and after complaints, inspectors found “an unapproved barbecue grill firepit and hood had been installed.”

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Richardson said there were some inaccuracies in the Longbeachize article, but it prompted him to meet with the Robicheaus and have productive conversations. The Robicheaus said they were encouraged by the meeting and the renewed guidance they got on how to get permits for the equipment they needed.

At the time, they announced they’d remain open and hoped to start smoking meats on-site by January, but today, they said they’d decided the investment wasn’t feasible and they’d close their doors.

“The improvements we’d have to make without a guarantee, we just can’t roll the dice,” Robicheau said.

Smoking meats on site was crucial to their business plans because Shady Grove is known for its family recipes and New American fare — smoked baby back ribs, Santa Maria tri-tip, Cajun meatloaf and more. Without the planned grill or smoker, the restaurant was limited in how much food it could produce per day.

Robicheau also said the space, which didn’t come with parking, hindered their ability to fill the restaurant and they plan to look for another location in Long Beach that fits their needs better.

“In the meantime, we’ll be building our coffers back up,” Robicheau said.

Ultimately, Robicheau said, shutting down isn’t a negative. The outpouring of community support validated the love people have for their food and the value they bring to the community. They’re excited for whatever will come next, Robicheau said.

And residents won’t have to say goodbye completely. Shady Grove Foods will return to its roots by popping up at Brouwerij West every Sunday from noon until they sell out. They will also participate in the Second Annual Cajun Food Festival on March 2 and be available for catering services.

Updates on Shady Grove are available on its Instagram account.