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UPDATED: Long Beach skater bar Black opens at former gay bar

Black Long Beach Bar

The name Black was painted today on the former home of the Paradise Bar and Restaurant, a landmark queer space in Long Beach’s gayborhood that served its last drink March 20. Black, a skater bar with a straight clientele, is open everyday. Photo: Q Voice News.

This story has been updated to reflect that Black is open.

LONG BEACH — The exterior has been painted black, and the tropical and floral Paradise signs have been removed.

The windows are covered as construction crews inside give the site of the former Paradise Bar and Restaurant, the renowned gayborhood watering hole, a makeover for its replacement — Black, a skater bar that also will serve food and cater to a straight crowd. Paradise closed and served its last drink March 20.

BLACK BAR

The new owners-partners are Shannon McManus, 51, Bethany Black, 41, and former professional skateboarder Heath Kirchart, 40, who also operate the Hollywood bar Black. They became the building’s renters and took possession of the entertainment and alcohol licenses associated with it in early April.

Black is open with hours Monday to Sunday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Black Bar Long Beach

Heath Kirchart, left, Shannon McManus, center, and Bethany Black are the new tenants of 1800 E. Broadway, site of the former gay landmark Paradise Bar and Restaurant. The trio will open Black, a skater bar, by July 1. The trio picked up the keys to the space one week after Black gave birth to her first child. Photo: Bethany Black.

The trio opened the original Black bar in 2014 on Santa Monica Boulevard near Vine Street.

Black and McManus’ business credentials include running the Sunset Strip-based The Viper Room from 1993 to 1998.

WELCOME TO THE GAYBORHOOD

The building Black calls home started as a hardware store in 1929 and housed a number of bars and restaurants until the Paradise took over in 1980.

Since the announcement of Paradise’s closing, the neighbors have been curious about the replacement and what could mean to the gayborhood, the Alamitos Beach neighborhood around Broadway that for decades has been Long Beach’s predominately gay area.

In an interview with Q Voice News, Black and McManus talk about their plans for the space, bringing a skater vibe to the “Gay Ghetto,” and being the new kid on the Broadway Corridor, just steps from The Brit and Mineshaft, the two oldest gay bars on the block.

Here are some excerpts.

Black’s impact on the gayborhood

“All I can say is we are excited to be part of the community. We are excited to serve everyone,” Black says.

“Our generation and clientele aren’t worried if people are gay. It’s not even a thought. I’m not worried about that at all,” she says.

“We are so used to being around everyone. It doesn’t need to be a concern,” Black says. “Tons of our family and friends go to all the those bars on Broadway.”

Designated queer nights?

“We have no plans for specialty nights of any kind as of yet,” McManus says. “We are just concentrating on getting open at this moment in time.”

What’s a skater vibe?

“It means everyone is accepted and welcomed,” Black says. “It’s not pretentious. It’s laid back and easy going. That’s what it’s like at our bar in Hollywood. It will be the same in Long Beach.”

How Long Beach was selected

“The previous owner of Paradise was willing to sell,” Black says. “Long Beach has been part of the plan since 2013.

“Health and I are from Orange County. We know the Long Beach area very well. We love that area,” she says. “We felt like Long Beach has so much going on, new businesses and restaurants going in. We wanted to be a part of that.”

What to expect at Black

“The vibe and music will be the same in Long Beach as in Hollywood. It will be a mix of every genre with a live DJ,” Black says. “We could have live music. We have the option with the license to do it every once and awhile. We think we will.”

The food menu

“It will be simple, fresh, and small plates with vegetarian options,” Black says. “Jessica DellaTorre, an alumni from Sonoma’s Scribe Winery (and Black’s cousin) is general manager. We hired Jeff Boullt as our kitchen manager. Jessica and Jeff created the food program. Jeff is a Long Beach local and formally worked as the executive chef at Playground and The Social in Orange County.

The investors

“Shannon and I are the owners and operators. It’s a limited partnership. Heath is the third partner,” Black says. “We have seven investors, four professional skateboarders and three musicians, two in the same band.

“They add a lot to what we do. They will guest DJ, bring in skater parties, video release parties, record release parties. After parties from their concerts, and guest bartender.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated. Jeff Boullt is Black’s kitchen manager.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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