water playground

A group of giant inflatables have created a floating playground at the south end of Bayshore Beach.

For more than a quarter century, Long Beach's beach concessions have been handled by a firm known as Alfredo's Beach Club — the corporate name is Beach Ventures International, Inc.

But in December 2016, Fred Khammar died of a heart attack. Khammar had formed Alfredo's, and was known far and wide as Long Beach's Big Kahuna. The company soldiered on, with Jesel "Jess" Evans Ortloff, Khammar's step-daughter, at the helm.

In the past couple of years, Ortloff has cut back on the number of special events Alfredo's puts on, and moved the big Pirates' Festival and Love Long Beach Celebration to Shoreline Aquatic Park downtown. But she continued operating all of the concession stands— Kayak Kafe at Horny Corner, Mother's Beach, Cherry Beach, Granada Launch Ramp, Belmont Veterans' Memorial Pier and Alamitos Beach.

Until this year.

A drive to upgrade beach amenities, at least partially due to planned 2028 Olympics events here, will rebuild three concession stands in the next couple of years. The largest and most elaborate will be at Alamitos Beach, where a $9 million, two-story complex is under construction. The others at Cherry and Granada will wait until after summer. All three projects include playgrounds.

Fishing rodeo 2018

A crowd gathers during weighing at last year's Kids Fishing Rodeo on the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier.

"We've already turned in the keys (to Alamitos Beach)," Ortloff said. "We won't be doing anything there — too much construction."

Alamitos Beach is at a turn on the city's bike and pedestrian paths, and fronts the widest part of the beach. It will be the location for a week-long Sun Soaked Festival and concert in July along with other events, but there will not be regular concessions this year.

Ortloff said it will be business as usual at the rest of the locations, including Movies on the Beach and activity on the pier. One new event, the Taste of SoCal beer tasting, will be on Aug. 10 on the pier, and the annual Kids' Fishing Rodeo will return on Aug. 3.

The rental program Alfredo's had operated at Alamitos Beach will move to Granada Launch Ramp this year. Granada has become a summer beach activity hub. with Rosie's Dog Beach, beach volleyball courts and kite- and wind-surfing operations nearby.

There will be lots of activity around the Kayak Kafe, as well. It is near the city-operated Leeway Sailing Center, Gondola Getaway headquarters, the Bayshore playground and its basketball and handball courts, and the newest addition on the bay side of the beach, an on-the-water playground with inflatables anchored near the beach. That activity opened last year, and is expanding with more components this year, according to Gerardo Mouet, the city's Parks, Recreation and Marine director.

Big plans are in the works at Belmont Pier, as well. Mayor Robert Garcia has listed a complete renovation of the pier as one of his eight major improvements to be done before the 2028 Olympics. A winter storm two years ago damaged the pier landing dock beyond repair, and apparently no work will take place on it until the rebuild is designed.

But Alfredo's will operate the snack shack there, and also rents fishing poles and sell tackle and bait. A second story on the snack shack is reserved for private events. There are boat moorings near the pier, rented by Mike O'Toole through Gondola Getaway.

At deadline for this publication, Ortloff said the movie schedule and other special events still were being worked on. For updated information, go to www.alfredosbeachclub.com.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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