Three businesses in Belmont Shore may be crossing from the South side to the North side of Second Street after being displaced by Baja Fish Taco.

It was announced in July this year that new owners, who also own Baja Fish Tacos restaurants, had purchased the building at 5224 E. Second St., which currently houses Sweet Jill’s, Saga, Paris Tailors & Cleaners and Fingers & Toes.

Baja Fish Tacos, a family-owned restaurant chain, has six other locations in California. Founder Julio Gutierrez has been unavailable for comment about his plans for the Belmont Shore building.

After being told in July that the existing businesses would need to vacate the space, Saga owner Sami Kanawati immediately began a liquidation sale and began looking for a new location on Second Street. Saga also has a second storefront in Shoreline Village.

Currently, Kanawati said he is working with the owners of Sweet Jill’s and Paris Tailors to move three of the displaced businesses into 5001 E. Second St. 5001 E. Second St., near Argonne Avenue, was previously occupied by The Love Shack, which closed on Friday, Sept. 28.

“We’re still working with the city to subdivide the space, and we plan on being open for another month or two at our current location so that we can liquidate our merchandise and open fresh,” Kanawati explained.

Sweet Jill’s owner Jill Pharis-Yeakel, whose store has been open in Belmont Shore for 25 years, said she expects construction to begin at 5001 E. Second St. in mid-October and she hopes to open the new store shortly after the New Year.

“The new buyer (Baja Fish Tacos) is willing to let us stay until our new space is ready for our occupancy,” Pharis-Yeakel said. “We are fortunate to have a new, long-term lease and look forward to serving everyone for many years to come.”

The businesswoman added that she looks forward to having new equipment, furnishings, flooring, displays. She said she is confident the new location will be enjoyed by customers. Sweet Jill’s also has locations in Seal Beach and at the Long Beach Airport.

It is unclear if or where Fingers & Toes will relocate, but Kanawati said there isn’t enough space for all four of the businesses to move into the same building.

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Despite the city's parking codes preventing retail from being turned into restaurants, the 5001 retail space will be converted to restaurant space and Baja Fish Taco's will add another alcohol license to 2nd street. The commercial property owners love it because they can charge more rent. Councilman DeLong will support both moves in violation of city municipal codes because that is what he always does. Belmont Shore residents can expect their property values to deminish as they lose ANOTHER retail space in the city's conversion of 2nd street in to Pine Avenue.

Interesting that Sweet Jills has already signed the lease for the former 5001 retail space before a public hearing seeking a variance from the city's municipal parking codes.


-Mike Ruehle