Longtime Regulars Buy Long Beach Open Mic Venue, Plan to Deliver Booze in Pandemic

The new owners of 4th Street Vine, shortened to "Vine," aim to maintain the community's artistic hub where they first became acquainted
The venue's new owners, on the left, alongside its former owners.
Photo: Official
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The former 4th Street Vine at 2142 East 4th St. in Long Beach will sport a snappier name and spanking-new owners when COVID-19 restrictions on California bars loosen. In the meantime, owners Dustin Lovelis and Emily Rollins are shortening to venue’s name to, simply, “Vine” (this is apparently what the regulars have called the joint for years) and are devising a delivery system to keep their customers sated, safely.

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“We’re going to try to focus on local as much as we can—we’re still working that out,” said Lovelis, guitarist and singer who performed often at the venue over the last 15 years. “The idea is to have something for everyone. We want to have really cheap beer and nice craft beer available. Same thing with wine, we want affordable wines and natural and organic wines for all palates and all price points.”

The couple, who grew close as regular customers at the Long Beach music hub before they were married, hopes to reopen the space under its new name and ownership in a month or so, COVID-willing.

“The COVID thing is a huge risk and a total bummer for us, but one of the silver linings is that we have time to figure things out and fine-tune some things before we officially open,” said Lovelis. “There’s no rush because we can’t rush.”

Jim Ritson and Sophia Sandoval, the building’s previous owners, felt that Dustin and Emily were destined to take over their beloved venue: on the day that the first owners opened the location in 2008, Sophia was pregnant and 44th President Barack Obama had just been inaugurated. Serendipitously, Emily is nine months along in her pregnancy, and the country is at the cusp of another Presidential transfer of power.

“First off, we began thinking about selling 4th Street Vine before COVID hit, so even though this is happening as we all slug through this dumb virus, it is not the reason we decided to sell,” wrote the parting owners on Instagram. “In the end, our primary consideration was that whoever took it over would continue with it as the space for community that it has become over the years. We could not sell it to someone from out of town who just wanted to get on 4th Street. There was one couple that we thought would be perfect—they are Dustin and Emily Lovelis…if you don’t already know them, you’re gonna love ’em.”

Like the original establishment, the new Vine will never charge a cover fee to watch live entertainment, and the staff will remain unchanged. Dustin and Emily hope that the building continues to foster the close-knit artistic community of Long Beach.

“We might make some subtle changes here and there, but we want to make sure that everything stays the way they intended it to be,” said Lovelis. “The whole world is changing in a positive direction—I hope we can be a part of it.”

Christina Coulter

Christina Coulter is an eager journalist from Connecticut with dogged tenacity and the sensibilities of a small-town reporter. Before and after graduating from Marist College in 2017, Christina covered local news for a slew of publications in the Northeast, including The Wilton Bulletin, the Millbrook Independent, The Kingston Times, The New Paltz Times and the Rockland Times. For nearly four years before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Christina was the lead reporter for The Saugerties Times, living and breathing the goings-on of the 20,000-strong Hudson Valley community. Christina weathered the pandemic in Atlanta, where she got a taste for the city's people and flavors. After a brief stint covering news in Connecticut and New York once more with The Daily Voice, Christina was taken on by What Now Atlanta and What Now Los Angeles, where she aims to unweave the intricacies of both cities' bright restaurant communities.
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