Elliot and Anna Lewis (center) joined by the rapper Xzibit and Councilmember Mary Zendejas at a ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday July, 23, 2022. Photo courtesy of Nathan Avila

When Kress Market closed over a year ago, it seemed that it would join a growing list of other North Pine Avenue businesses that recently closed and left an open storefront on Downtown’s main street, but this week the space will open again, this time as a bar.

Anna’s is taking over the space at the corner Pine Avenue and Fifth Street that had been occupied by the former eatery operated by Kress for the past decade. Anna’s, named after its owner, Anna Lewis, will offer small plates, wine and low-cost beers, which are currently selling for between $2 and $4 a pint.

Lewis and her husband, Elliot, who owns and operates the Catalyst branded dispensaries in Long Beach and beyond, made a pledge to invest in the block after the dispensary was granted a special permit to open the in Downtown in June 2021.

The Pine dispensary is located next door to Anna’s, which they hope will help bring life and culture to the 400 block of Pine, which has seen a spate of closures recently.

“I gave my word, hell or high water, we’d improve the block,” Elliot said.

In March 2021, Long Beach Coffee & Tea, which was located across the street from Kress, announced it was closing. Kress closed later that year and was followed by Romeo Chocolates, which had operated on the block since 2017, but announced in May it was closing its Pine location.

Soon, Gold’s Gym, a 35-year staple of North Pine, will be relocating to The Pike Outlets down the street.

Leon Garcia, the cook at Anna’s, takes customer taco orders in front of the space formerly occupied by Kress Market Thursday, July 28, 2022. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

Elliot said he made the decision to open another business next to the dispensary in part because of the promise that he made when petitioning to open the dispensary that the block wouldn’t suffer because of its presence, something that was of concern during the permitting process.

While Pine is a main artery of Downtown, the number of restaurants and bars begins to dry up as you head north from Fourth Street. Anna’s will be the only bar between Fifth Street and Anaheim Street.

Anna’s is still working out its menu, but the plan is to offer simple bar food that will range from salads and charcuterie boards to paninis, the bar’s manager Gerard McAvoy said. There will also be opportunities for pop-up chefs to operate in the space on a monthly basis.

Its alcohol license allows it to sell beer and wine, and Lewis said there are no plans to raise the price of beer. Catalyst’s slogan is “Weed for the People” and the prices reflect a similar “Beer for the People” approach, Elliot said.

Manager Gerard McAvoy wipes down the bar at the recently opened Anna’s, which took over the former Kress Market location on the southwest corner of Pine Avenue and Fifth Street Thursday, July 28, 2022. Photo by Brandon Richardson.

The improvements may not stop with Anna’s.

The couple leased the entire corner that used to be Kress, and is looking at turning the space that used to be the marketplace into another food establishment. While plans are not finalized, it will likely an Italian deli with some sort of a bottle shop.

“Little by little we’re going to do it and Catalyst is going to be the development engine for the block,” he said.

The Lewis’s say that the hope is that in 10 years that the block can be fully activated, potentially with traffic blocked to allow for a second promenade to exist on north Pine.

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