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Taste of Downtown event spotlights small businesses

Long Beach residents and visitors commuted by the coast and socialized with various vendors and local small businesses in attendance at the two day Taste of Downtown event at the Waterfront between Shoreline Village and Pine Avenue Pier on Aug. 24 and Aug. 25.

Coordinated by the Downtown Long Beach Alliance, the third and final event of their Taste of Downtown series showcased what small businesses in Downtown Long Beach have to offer.

Live music, food samples, games, painting classes and clothing merchandise were all available to the public.

Families enjoy the free games amongst the festivities.
Families enjoy the free games amongst the festivities. Photo credit: Kadie Gurley

“We have 10 different restaurants, a couple of different music bands and a lot of bars along with drinks where people can come down,” DLBA Community Manager Mike Berman said. “It is a really great place to get together especially for families.”

With the success of the first two events of the Taste of Downtown series, DLBA wanted to create a spotlight for local businesses to help promote their companies.

“We have a black-owned business grant, woman-owned business grant accelerator,” Berman said. “We are trying to help the community, those smaller companies, who are in the very beginning stages, we’re trying to give them free training to lift them up and give them opportunity.”

DLBA wanted to get the community together while also bringing awareness to these businesses.

“The main purpose for us is to bring the community together and we haven’t done it in two years because of the pandemic,” said Berman. “It gives us an opportunity to market the restaurants downtown because part of what DLBA does is that we are trying to build the economic piece of downtown to help restaurants succeed and this is a wonderful marketing opportunity.”

A few newer businesses had booths set up to display what their services had to offer. Vanessa Hernandez, owner of Mobile Winebar SoCal, was one of the woman-owned businesses at the event to get more exposure as a brand new service.

“We’re a mobile bartending service and we’re out here just trying to promote and trying to get more exposure,” Hernandez said.

She had doubts coming out to the event because of the amount of people present.

“Just to mention that scares me,” Hernandez said. “I am taking the leap. I’ve been doing smaller events over the years and this is my very first experience with this many people. It’s my way of facing my fear and going for it.”

Another woman-owned business, Ash Bay Soap Co. by Cathleen Cleveland, makes a variety of natural and vegan soaps along with other products. She built her brand from personal experience.

Ash Bay Soaps Co. sells many natural and vegan soaps along with other soothing products.
Ash Bay Soaps Co. sells many natural and vegan soaps along with other soothing products. Photo credit: Kadie Gurley

“I initially got into this because of my own allergies caused by skin issues about 16 years ago and at that time, you could not find products like this in the stores,” said Cleveland. “So, I had to come up with my own stuff.”

Auld Dubliner owner David Copley has been around the heart of Long Beach for over 18 years. He describes his business as “a contemporary Irish pop that reflects the traditional values of hospitality, warmth and welcoming.”

Auld Dubliner serving food samples for guests that brought tickets.
Auld Dubliner serving food samples for guests that brought tickets. Photo credit: Kadie Gurley

Being open for all those years, Copley still attends these events to interact with the community.

“We love events,” he said. “We do these events for years and years and it really gets us out in front of people. It’s amazing how many residents have lived here for years who don’t know that we’re here and you get to talk to people and explain what we do.”

Pedal Movement provides a way for people around DTLB to commute across the city. Also, they offer bike education classes, bike repair, valet, merchandise for sale and wheelhouse rentals. Digital Marketing Coordinator Jocelyn Velasquez was one of the representatives at their booth.

“We do this to help out the local community to make it easier for them to come down here,” she said.

Taste of Downtown was one of their biggest events since the beginning of COVID-19, and they are planning more with public safety in mind.

“We do a public safety survey every year, have a good relationship with the police and have a cleaning team called “Clean and Safe” who help keep the streets along with the sidewalks clean,” said Berman.

For more information on the schedule of upcoming events, check out the DLBA website to see the full list.

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