When Portuguese Bend went under earlier this year, Long Beach stood subtly shocked, but altogether accustomed to the shuttering of doors up and down Pine Street and its adjacent offshoots. After all, the long strip of restaurants and bars had become a literal ghost town following COVID-19, and local diners and drinkers — powerless to the changes — had little choice but to gladly frequent what was left behind, fingers crossed that at least a few favorites would weather the storm.
Fortunately, things seem to be on the up and up for Downtown Long Beach as concept after concept pops up, breathing new life into the dead zone. Now, a SoCal-based collective called Smoke & Fire has plans to take over the massive Portuguese Bend space in the coming months.
Helmed by Isaias Hernandez, Josh Bentrem, and Juan Hernandez, Smoke & Fire — a La Habra restaurant and bar — is the parent company of the team’s varying projects: Craft by Smoke & Fire, Villain Brewery, and the many branches of the first two.
“This is one really is for Long Beach,” Isaias explained via Longbeachize.com. “We had looked at so many other properties across the years in Long Beach—years, I am talking—and we are so happy they didn’t work out… We’re here to invest, to bring in something the city can have some pride and ownership in, to bring a new sense of community. And you know what? We’re honored to be able to do that.”
The incoming concept, which is yet to be named, will borrow slightly from Craft by Smoke & Fire’s offerings — a menu created in part by the team’s late friend Executive Chef Oscar Victoria.
Long Beach locals and visitors can expect the Smoke & Fire project to debut in “the coming months.”