Beloved Long Beach restaurant Kafe Neo abruptly closed earlier this week, announcing a permanent shuttering of the 12-year-old “American kitchen with Greek soul” via Facebook Thursday afternoon.
“It is with a heavy heart that we are sad to announce the closing of our Kafe Neo location on 2800 e. 4th street,” said the post, which was signed by owners Gus and Pete Sverkos, who celebrated their restaurant’s 10th anniversary with a Greek Block Party in the parking lot on Oct. 15. “My brother and I have based this decision primarily on the opportunity to spend more time with our families. After seeing our parents work tirelessly for over 40 years in this very same location, we wanted to reconsider our priorities.”
The closure comes a little over a month after the City of Long Beach announced that 2800 E. 4th St. would be the future site of a new medical marijuana dispensary. In a dramatic lottery process on Sept. 28, Ryan Burns Collective won the right (over multiple other dispensaries vying to open at Kafe Neo’s address) to move forward with the application and planning process.
Once open, Ryan Burns Collective – which was incorporated earlier this year in the Northern California town of Galt – will be among the city’s first legally operating medical marijuana dispensaries in half a decade.
Kafe Neo – and its Greek-tinged brunches, traditional pita sandwiches, casual-upscale Mediterranean fare and more – will be sorely missed.
The Sverkos brothers opened the restaurant on the site of their father’s former auto repair garage, which he operated after immigrating from Greece. With a menu of crossover American and Greek classics inspired by their mother and a spacious-patio vibe that made it a true neighborhood spot, Gus and Pete made Kafe Neo one of the best examples of how turning an old business into a trendy cafe doesn’t have to mean gentrification.
Now, the next generation of profitable Long Beach businesses will occupy the location. On Friday, the parking lot at 2800 E. 4th St. was roped off by orange cones and a sandwich board stood in place of the hostess stand saying “Closed Until Further Notice. Sorry For the Inconvenience.” The windows were covered in brown butcher paper and people could be seen moving equipment from the corner lot into a smaller unit a few doors down.
Here’s the full statement from the Sverkos brothers on the closure:
Sarah Bennett is a freelance journalist who has spent nearly a decade covering food, music, craft beer, arts, culture and all sorts of bizarro things that interest her for local, regional and national publications.