Grunion Gazette - Long Beach

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West Coast Choppers Awaits Ride Off Into Sunset

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Posted: Thursday, October 21, 2010 3:22 pm | Updated: 3:01 pm, Thu Mar 1, 2012.

    Although a West Coast Choppers employee said she doesn’t know anything about the custom motorcycle and hot-rod business closing when questioned Wednesday morning, several news outlets already have stated that owner Jesse James is giving up on Long Beach.

    James opened West Coast Choppers at 718 W. Anaheim St. in the early 1990s. The shop received notoriety with James’s role in cable reality shows including “Monster Garage” and “Motorcycle Mania.”

    West Coast Choppers was celebrated as a fixture and tourist destination in Long Beach earlier this year, when Oregon Avenue from Anaheim to 12th streets was renamed as West Coast Choppers Place in a Jan. 28 ceremony. Since opening, James’s business has expanded from the main storefront to include an adjacent block-long warehouse and specialty automotive industry-related shops.

    In April 2006, James opened Cisco Burger, 620 W. Anaheim St. The eco-friendly yet old-fashioned burger joint serves breakfast and lunch, specializing in kobe beef burgers. The eatery transformed the run-down previous restaurant’s property into a grassy area with outdoor seating and no drive-thru.

    Bing Smith, general manager of Cisco Burgers, said the restaurant is open for business and the bustling eatery has no plans to close.

    “Our business isn’t affected,” Smith said Wednesday when questioned about Cisco closing in light of West Coast Choppers leaving the area. “I don’t know anything about (West Coast Choppers) closing.”

    During the Aug. 3 City Council meeting, the council approved a 10-year lease with the business for adjacent former Union Pacific Railroad Company property at 602 W. Anaheim St., which Cisco will beautify without having to pay rent.

    Celebrity news website TMZ.com broke the news Tuesday afternoon, stating “sources close to Jesse tell us … James is living full-time in Texas and wants to focus on his shop out there … TMZ has confirmed the celebrity gearhead is shutting down the … bike shop in Long Beach.”

    James is part of a custom car business, Austin Speed Shop, in Texas. Jason, an employee of Austin Speed Shop, said that he couldn’t answer any questions when asked about West Coast Choppers and James’s plans Wednesday afternoon.

    After James’s divorce with actress Sandra Bullock was finalized June 28 following allegations of James cheating on the star, James followed Bullock to Austin. Bullock had moved to Austin after news of the scandal broke earlier this spring.

    First District Councilman Robert Garcia was surprised by the possibility of West Coast Choppers closing. Garcia said he had read the TMZ article Wednesday morning but “didn’t have any other information.”

    None of the published news stories have stated when James plans to permanently close West Coast Choppers’ doors.

    For more information, visit www.westcoastchoppers.com.