In yet another example of how devastating 2018 has been on the survival rate of established Long Beach restaurants, 4th & Olive—the downtown, veteran-friendly, Alsatian-forward restaurant with an L.A. chef whose talents were hailed by Jonathan Gold—will be closing up shop after the New Year, according to owner Daniel Tapia.
In a post on Facebook, Tapia made the announcement with a “bittersweet heart” and noted that “it has been a pleasure bringing you a new cuisine and an alternative to the standard offerings in the finest city in which I have ever lived.”
When speaking with Tapia, he was confident, albeit not 100 percent sure, that the closure would prompt the creation of a new concept should he find a proper investor(s).
“That’s a very realistic possibility, create something that is more in line with the neighborhood,” Tapia said. “4th & Olive was 20 percent ahead of Long Beach, and with the new concept, we would have to tone that down to better connect with what the people want. Because if I were to describe 4th & Olive in a single sentence, it would be that my place was the one that everyone is ‘meaning to go’ but no one goes. It is a constant river of ‘I’ve been meaning to,’ and I can’t keep hanging on to that when I have a mortgage and a family.”
Until then, he will be doing a one-night-only, nine-course pop-up tasting menu with Filipino master chef AC Boral on December 17. Given that Boral is the man behind everything from Pinoy-meets-brunch Rice & Shine to the famed Wu Tang Clan dinner, this menu is sure to break norms in the best way possible.
“[The dinner] is truly going to be spectacular,” Tapia said.
While Tapia is moving forward the best way he can, it is an unfortunate reality that 4th & Olive somehow didn’t mesh with the neighborhood in a sustainable fashion. One of my 15 best restaurants in Long Beach, it is a space where boudin blanc and pork tartare danced toe-to-toe with house-cured meats and a beverage list that eschewed West Coast hoppy beers and jammy California wines for odd Belgian-inspired craft brews and earthy European wines.
But perhaps what will be missed most of all is Tapia’s infectious obsession with taking care of his neighborhood and employees; his almost ardent insistence that great food need not be paired with pretense, elitism or cruelty.
And there’s a story behind that.
When Tapia started working at one of the nation’s most recognizable restaurants under one of the nation’s most respected chefs, the Navy veteran felt a sense of pride. Despite his use of a cane—necessary after being hit by a car while riding his bike—Tapia had arrived in a region of the food world he most respected.
That is until his boss, the respected chef, noticed his cane. According to Tapia, it was then the chef told him he didn’t want customers to have to “look at a cripple while they eat.”
This particular moment shaped Tapia’s understanding that fine dining lacked a human sensibility, that if he were to not change the culture itself, no one would.
“I realized I didn’t want to go back because, let’s be honest, they’re going to always view me as a cripple,” Tapia said. “Where was I gonna go if I stayed? If they treated me like this then, what would be the difference in the future? So I was done.”
Out of this, 4th & Olive was born, providing a safe space for veterans—when initially opening, his staff was entirely composed of vets and the vast majority of his staff remain so—and a humble approach to a food that most of his patrons would know little about it.
“I will never lose my sense of love for my city and community,” Tapia said. “Gonna move forward with this new concept the best I can and, until then, I hope some folks peep their head in before 4th & Olive’s menu is gone forever.”
4th & Olive is located at 743 E 4th St.
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