On the north side of 62nd Place, nestled near the tip of Long Beach’s sleepy-but-dreamy Peninsula neighborhood, is a small strip of commercial spaces that have long served the community. The Bay Wash laundromat. The Beverage House, with everything from Butterfingers to two-buck Chuck. And one single restaurant location that has seen a parade of breakfast-and-lunch-centric iterations attempting to compete with nearby staples like Chuck’s or The Potholder: There was Wanda’s. Then SUP (Stand Up Paddle) Cafe. Then Peninsula Cafe.
Mother and daughter team Cindy and Mackenzie Hendrix are hoping to change that with Vibes, connecting the burgeoning Long Beach food scene to the Peninsula with its exceptional California cuisine. But before food, came a complete overhaul that transformed this formerly cavernous space into a bright, beachy bistro more reflective of the neighborhood and the times.
“My mom called me and said, ‘I just did something crazy,'” Mackenzie said. “I was like, ‘Umm, okay, what did you do?’ And she literally said, ‘I bought a restaurant. I have to go. So much to do.’ And hung up,” she said with a laugh.
Initially approaching her daughter to handle the social media and branding of her new business adventure (putting Mackenzie’s freshly minted Chapman marketing degree to good use), Cindy noticed an ambition and creativity within her daughter that led both to realize this wasn’t going to be a solo show for Mom.
Gutting the building and patiently honing the concept for nearly two years, Cindy and Mackenzie knew they had to create something unique but accessible, contemporary but fitting for the neighborhood, and—perhaps most personally—something reflective of their positive spirits.
“By the time we had already finished the interior, I still didn’t have a name,” Cindy said. “And on our way to the Shore, Mackenzie told me, ‘Mom, you’re always about positivity, about good energy—what about “Vibes” as a name?’ And it just clicked. On top of that, we walked past a stack of hats with ‘vibes’ embroidered on them and we knew we had it.”
Vibes aims for, well, good vibes. The space is clean and minimal, with grays and warm whites, intimate seating, and a patio that feels like a mini-bungalow with a water fountain wall that complements the serene quietness of the Peninsula. (Not to mention that the patio is the perfect place to start off your morning while sipping a long black pour.)
Given Berlin’s distance all the way in Downtown and the recent closure of Restauration following its tragic fire, a cafe that operates more as a restaurant than a coffeeshop is not only a smart move in terms of business, but alleviates the lack of American bistro offerings in the city’s culinary scene while connecting the rest of the city to one of its most beautiful neighborhoods.
Chef Hugo Sanchez has created a menu that feels contemporary but approachable in its California-ness: tartines slathered in ricotta or heirloom tomatoes and avocado—not far from the quality of L.A.’ astounding Republique’s own versions—sit next to breakfast-ified tacos and pizzas. Encouraged by spaces like Downtown L.A.’s Otium, Sanchez gets a large portion of his produce and herbs from hydro-pods that grow part of the restaurant’s edible needs on the roof.
And it’s not just the food that is quality: The Hendrixes have honed in on their caffeinated portion of the space with acuity and taste, bringing Long Beach its first taste of Newport-based Common Room. Surely, there is no shortage of local roasters but bringing in Common adds to our city’s wide array of solid beans.
“I know it can sound cheesy but we really stand by what we called ourselves,” Cindy said. “We just want people to feel the good vibes.”
Vibes is located at 76 1/2 62nd Pl. on the Peninsula.
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