After a flurry of restaurant closures last year, it appears that 2019 isn’t shaping up to be much different. Witness that shortly after the closure of Do Good Donuts on January 6, Belmont Shore staples Babette’s Feast and Magic Lamp have closed up shop, also.
Babette’s Feast has long been associated with offering sweets, sandwiches and salads to the residents and visitors of the Shore under the direction of Christian Rebufat, a French transplant, and his wife Elizabeth “Babette” Rebufat. The Belmont Shore location was an addition to their Babette Bakery in Poly Plaza, which remains open.
Selling the Shore bakery to Fan Ly, owner of Park Pantry near Bixby Park, the shop continued to operate until Ly abruptly posted a sign announcing the closure as well as a new owner re-opening the location soon.
Ly has yet to return comment for this story and, according to Dede Rossi, executive director at Belmont Shore Business Association, has also not returned calls from the association in a request to further understand the reasons for the closure. Rossi did note that a new bakery owner will be “moving in soon.”
According to property owner Lisa Ramelow, Ly had long wanted to sell the business
“The owner of Babette’s had been wanting to sell for over a year and it took a while to find a buyer,” Ramelow said. “He cited the increase in minimum wage as his main downfall—he had a lot of employees—and the difficulty of business in Long Beach.”
Meanwhile, Magic Lamp, the Mediterranean restaurant slightly east of Babette’s Feast, has closed after its owners, Bruno and Billy Schade, said that their lease was not renewed because “rent was due to go up significantly which makes it impossible to continue doing business.”
“The landlord just asked for an unreasonable amount for a new lease so we opted out,” Bruno Schade said. “We are in the process of finding a new location and will post it on our website MagicLampGrill.com soon, with hopes to re-open April 2.”
However, according to property owner Lisa Gelker, there was “absolutely no rent increase.”
On top of this, the restaurant has faced multiple health violations recently. On Oct. 17 of 2018, the restaurant was closed for a vermin infestation while a far more serious violation—lack of a health permit—prompted a closure on Dec. 5.
Opened for more than a decade, the restaurant was one of the more recent additions to Belmont Shore’s thriving Mediterranean scene, joining George’s Greek Cafe’s original location, Open Sesame and Gypsy’s. The main distinction was that Magic Lamp went more Levantine with their food, offering the city some of its first taste of dishes such as zaatar manoush and sanbousek.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with statements from the owners of Magic Lamp.
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