Pier 76 Fish Grill closes after 9 years in Downtown

Pier 76 Fish Grill, a nearly decade-long popular Pine Avenue restaurant for the street’s once-busy lunch scene, has closed its doors.

“It was fun while it lasted,” said owner Chris Krajacic, who brought the seafood restaurant to town in 2012 following six years as executive chef at Walt’s Wharf in Seal Beach.

What ultimately brought about the downfall of Pier 76 is the same that’s plaguing many restaurants these days, including trouble finding workers, and the higher costs of paying them, as well as ever-rising food prices, along with the continuing effects of COVID-19, which continues to keep Downtown offices vacant while employees work remotely.

“No restaurants are immune to the problems,” Krajacic said. “And it’s a combination of those things and more. It’s not the fault of one person, or any one things. It’s a culmination.”

Krajacic also owns the Harbor bar and restaurant on Pine, and he says, while that establishment has similar problems, they’re eased a bit by the fact that it caters more to a night crowd and drinking, while Pier 76 depended largely on lunch clientele, which Krajacic says has gone way down.

“Just look at Downtown during the afternoon,” he said. “It’s dead. A few years ago our place was packed all the time. I’d come to work and see the parking lot packed with cars and think we’re going to be jammed today. That doesn’t happen anymore.”

“Realistically, I should have closed a year ago. I just tried to make it work, and it wasn’t working.”

Krajacic said that he is appreciative of Long Beach and for the customers who continued to dine at Pier 76, “but at the end of the day it comes down to red or black, and we were red.”

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Tim Grobaty is a columnist and opinions editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his newspaper career at the Press-Telegram in 1976 as a copy boy and moved on to feature writer, music critic, TV critic, copy editor and daily columnist. He’s the author of several books, including I’m Dyin’ Here, and he lives in Long Beach.