The Downtown Long Beach area has several new dining options—but their signage will be hard to find, since they’re all located inside a new ghost kitchen and food hall in the city’s East Village neighborhood.

Partake Collective opened in earlier this month near Downtown, on the corner of Fifth Street and Elm Avenue, and it already has five vendors occupying its nine commercial kitchen spaces that sell meals to go, or to dine-in at its first-floor food hall.

Longtime neighborhood favorite Thai District, which has a physical location a few blocks south on Broadway and Linden Avenue, is one of the menus diners can order from. Thai District is joined by Mochi Dochi, a gourmet mochi dog and donut outfit, and Bubu Teriyaki, which offers Japanese, Korean and Hawaiian comfort food like pork Katsu bowls and beef teriyaki bulgogi sandwiches.

The Cave Prime Steak, another option at Partake, offers prime cuts like a 14-ounce New York strip and meaty sandwiches like its pulled pork melt. And MealsDotKom uses the collective’s space to sell its prepared meal packs, which can take away the stress of weekly meal prepping.

Elyse Frisch, interim chief operating officer of Partake, said the group has been selective with the kinds of food offerings that are made available from its commercial kitchens to help ensure a diverse menu of options for customers.

Frisch said that Partake has leased another of its nine commercial kitchen spaces to a Mexican vegan concept from Los Angeles, which does not yet have an opening date.

A man walks past the newly opened Partake Collective at the 400 block of Elm Avenue in Long Beach Tuesday, November 29, 2022. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Unlike typical ghost kitchens, Frisch said Partake is trying to inject a social aspect into the space rather than just provide a site for aspiring restaurateurs to launch their businesses.

“We wanted people to be able to order, sit down and be part of the community,” she said.

The dining process is unique because it involves no interaction with the business’s staff. Customers can order online or at a row of tablets situated in the first floor’s retail space, where snacks and drinks can also be purchased.

You can place an order with any of the five current tenants, and when your order is ready, you’ll be notified by a screen near the dining hall that alerts you to what locker your food is in.

Frisch said that there are plans for beer and wine to be sold for on-site consumption, but the application for that permit is still being reviewed.

In addition to the nine commercial kitchen spaces, the Partake Collective also offers communal kitchen space, which can be particularly helpful for people like home chefs or farmers market vendors that are looking to expand their businesses without committing to leasing out an entire storefront. For those communal kitchen spaces, rates are hourly.

The commercial kitchen spaces, meanwhile, are intended for longer-term tenants, where leases can last for months or a year.

The Partake Collective, for example, has allowed Bubu Teriyaki, a small operator that started out as a food truck in Wilmington, to broaden its reach in the region without having to secure a brick-and-mortar location in Long Beach. It also allows The Cave, which primarily works private catering events, to expand its services and provide food to people in the neighborhood on their lunch breaks.

The rates can run from as little as $200 for four hours in a communal kitchen to about $7,500 a month for the largest commercial kitchen, but the costs are altogether lower than what a typical restaurant build-out and lease could run.

Operators must have a business license, county health permit and insurance coverage to operate in the space. Tenants in the commercial kitchen sites must provide their own appliances—though having gas, plumbing and the other structural components of the kitchen ready to go still cuts out the costs of expensive build-outs and shave off the time it takes to get permitted by the city.

The communal kitchen spaces are already built out with appliances.

“You really only need to show up with your ingredients,” Frisch said.

While selling and eating food is one of the focuses of the three-story collective, there is more that the space officers. Also located on its first floor is a test kitchen and private dining room, both of which can be rented out for special events.

Locali Seasoned, a Long Beach-based business that offers cooking classes, is expected to use the space soon, Frisch said.

The collective’s communal kitchen, which will provide preparation space for multiple clients at a time, is expected to open in mid-January. The collective is also hoping to open a second location in Glassell Park, which could be completed by 2024.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.