Commentary: “What’s up? What’s new?”

“What’s new? What’s going? What are you up to?” I’ve been to a lot of meetings, events and social gatherings lately, and people ask me these questions all the time. It’s a simple answer: “A lot.”

So, I thought I’d knock something out really quick so you would be in the loop:

To begin with, our BKBIA Business Directory was printed and distributed to 12,000 homes around the area. It has all of our business members’ information and is also loaded with information about the BKBIA programs/events and great city resources, too. If you have not received a directory and would like one, please email us at [email protected] or call (562) 595-0081. We will be sure to get it to you.

We are always happy to hear when a business is doing so well that it needs to expand its operation, and we have a few examples of this at the moment. Instead of moving out of the area, Dr. Abrishami, owner of the Bixby Animal Clinic, purchased the building immediately south of his to expand and become a premier veterinary clinic featuring more exam rooms and surgery centers. He will also bring in specialists in all areas of veterinary medicine.

We hope you have eaten at Taboon Mediterranean Restaurant on Bixby Road. The new owner, Rabi Haddad, has freshened up the location with new décor and has already hosted local organizations in the back room. The BKBIA had a successful “Neighborhood Night” and packed the place with regulars from our Supper Club. There are plans for patio improvements, and Rabi is applying for a beer and wine license. We also hope to soon host a “Bixby Saturday Night” at the restaurant featuring great jazz bands. Details soon.

Speaking of new patios, The Green Olive at 3580 Long Beach Blvd. has completed its new patio and awaits final approval for its liquor license. You will soon be able to enjoy your very tasty meal with a beer or glass of wine. If you aren’t familiar, it’s located inside of Liquorland, 3580 Long Beach Blvd., and they do a very brisk take-out business. I think it’s fun to dine in such a unique spot, and we’re happy to see their patio look so nice.

We recently welcomed the Next Level Barber Shop, 4494 California Place, to the neighborhood.

We will keep the neighborhood posted on all of the other new businesses set to open up soon around the district.

The city has had more improvements completed at the Expo Arts Center via Measure A funds. New carpet, floors, doors and new roof are all underway. We are very thankful for the city’s continued investment in this building. Can you imagine if it had been knocked down years ago? We are also booking more events with nonprofits and community groups as a source of additional revenue for the BKBIA while we address the sunsetting of our redevelopment funds.

The BKBIA has been working closely with a local creative firm, Commune Communication, on two marketing projects. One is for boosting awareness and attendance for our events/programs. The second is what we are calling a neighborhood program or “Destination Bixby Knolls” where we start to promote all of our business clusters. Brewery Knolls is just one example of showcasing the beer economy within the district. We will next shift our marketing efforts to showcase all the outstanding services in the district by cluster: medical, dental, financial, automotive, pet and, of course, dining and retail in our district. If you haven’t realized it in full yet, we are loaded with excellent providers of goods and services.

We thank everyone that responded with great feedback to the question (shared via social media and email) “What would you like to see in the former Hof’s Hut space?” We are working with a listing agent for this property to help find tenants that truly serve the neighborhood. We received over 800 responses to our question and shared each one with that agent (as well as others representing new developments in the area). The reality is Hof’s Hut is NOT coming back, so we want to make it clear to the landlord and agent of what the neighborhood really wants and would support at that location. It’s a prime spot, has the history and is across from the busy center with Trader Joe’s. Surely we could land some great new businesses, right?

The construction at Atlantic and Roosevelt is nearly complete, and the interiors really look amazing.

The Med Compounders Pharmacy will take the corner space (they are currently located at 3711 Long Beach Blvd.), an Asian-fusion restaurant has signed a lease for a second spot and the landlord is working with his leasing agent on interest for the two remaining spaces. We have also shared that feedback from the neighborhood with this landlord and leasing agent to again help steer them in the right direction to serve the neighborhood.

If you’ve noticed some heavy work on the site of the former Royal Buffet, 33rd and Atlantic, this is the surveying of the ground for remediation of the oil wells there. We are keeping an eye and ear on it for progress and, hopefully, the site will be home to a new business in the near future.

We applaud Laserfiche and its plans for expansion on Long Beach Boulevard and 35th Street (another example of investing locally rather than moving). The company bought up all the surrounding oil properties and will have a second building on the site that will make a great gateway entrance into the district for that corridor. Laserfiche is using the same architect as 3503 LB Boulevard, so there is continuity in the look to that area (Killingsworth/mid-century modern). Laserfiche will hire more employees and really activate that part of the district. We are hoping to work with Laserfiche to activate the lot adjacent to Phil Trani’s with an art installation once it has been cleaned and made into a (temporary) parking lot for employees.

Keeping the district “clean and safe” remains our top priority. We are currently battling the weeds after all the recent rains. We have regular patrols for weed and litter abatement, as well as reporting graffiti and illegally dumped items. It’s time for us to do another round of power washing the sidewalks, too. I am thankful to all of our contractors that keep an eye on the area and help to keep it looking groomed and attractive.

With the recent closure of the Petroleum Club, we are happy that we found a new location for our business breakfasts and other large meetings. The Mason Lodge at 3610 Locust will be our new meeting spot. If you are interested in hosting a meeting or event there, please let us know and we’ll put you in touch with the right people. Email us at [email protected] or call (562) 595-0081.

In addition to all of this, I am happy to be a part of the city’s Economic Development Commission and contribute to the Economic Development Blueprint, which is a 10-year plan for the city. At the April 30 commission meeting, there was an 80-slide blueprint update presentation with all of the incredible work being done city-wide and covering issues such as: the Blueprint implementation process; engines of growth; economic inclusion; jobs and workforce development; business assistance; the development environment; and economic leadership and cooperation.

Please mark your calendars for our Concerts in the Park(ing Lot):

June 24King Salmon at Georgie’s Place – Guaranteed dance party

July 22Jr. Thomas and the Volcanos at Bixby Joe – Reggae

Aug. 19“Tribute to the Buena Vista Social Club” with The Delirians

We hope you’ll come out and participate in our June 7 First Fridays, where we will celebrate the first ever “Bixby Knolls Prom.” Think: Corsages, tacky tuxes and puffy dresses, photo ops, slow dances, 80s dances, disco dances…and the good and all the, well, you know, stuff that makes prom night so memorable.

And finally, we are very proud of the longevity and consistency of our regular events and programs:

Strollers, Literary Society, Good Spirits Club, Supper Club, Kidical Mass, Knights of the Round (Turn)Table, and First Fridays. We try to offer something for everyone that allows us to engage the community as a whole and remind folks that it is critical to support our local businesses. We work to create a vibrant district. Your role is to spend some money locally on services, dining and retail.

Won’t you please join us to make Bixby Knolls the most active neighborhood in the city?

OK, there you have it. Now it’s time for me to plan some days off for vacation!