Sungkamee family

The Sungkamees (from left) — Tui Sungkamee, Jonathon Gold (now deceased), Spicy Sugar owner Sugar Sungkamee, and her aunt Jazz Sungkamee.

Door Dash Cash

Infusing money and providing mentorship are two of the ways that Door Dash, the food delivery company, is planning to help women-, immigrant- and people of color-owned restaurants, which have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

Two Long Beach restaurants were selected to receive a $20,000 grant from Door Dash to use toward their business, to be used in concert with an 8-week educational program and mentorship. One hundred Los Angeles county restaurateurs were accepted into the mentoring program and will have access to the course, however only 25 restaurant owners were awarded the grant.

The Long Beach awardees are:

• Spicy Sugar Thai, 1538 E. Broadway (at Gaviota).

Owner and Chef Sugar Sungkamee grew up in the restaurant business learning from her late father, Chef Tui, of Los Angeles’ s Jitlada restaurant, who taught her culinary skills and business savviness. With an MBA and an undergrad degree in economics both from Cal State Channel Islands, she also completed studies at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in Pasadena.

Her graduation photo flashes on the screen in the documentary (available on Amazon Prime) "City of Gold," showcasing the late award-winning food critic Jonathan Gold’s favorite places. Gold and the Sungkamee family were close and Gold was a fan of their culinary gifts.

Today, Chef Sugar owns the Spicy Sugar on her own and co-owns Jitlada with her Aunt, Chef Jazz, who is featured heavily in "City of Gold."

“Customers like to keep my restaurant as their secret find,” said Chef Sugar, who adds she plans to use the grant money to remodel the interior of the business. With the Door Dash grant and coaching, more people will learn of this Alamitos Beach gem.

Sugar’s long-range plans include catering and writing a cookbook. The recipes she uses are the ones her father taught her — the same recipes Bon Appétit Magazine claimed as “definitely the best Thai food in L.A., and likely the whole country.” when referring to Jitlada.

• Sura Korean BBQ & Tofu House, 621 Atlantic Ave.

The husband-and-wife owners Brandon Sugano and Claire Kim took this restaurant over from an absentee owner. They grew the business from a small less than 500 square-foot space, first by expanding into the former salon next door and next into the space when a video store had been located.

“People like being able to talk to the owners," is how Sugano explained his management approach.

During the civil unrest a year ago, windows were broken and items were taken from the restaurant. The couple commended the city of Long Beach’s quick response to requests for help. They also credited their survival during the pandemic to neighbors who supported their business and purchased items from the convenience store they created that sold Korean snacks — including Korean spam.

Sugano said he plans to use some of the $20,000 grant to reward staff, with the remainder going to a kitchen remodel. The couple said the mentorship component where business gurus will coach on branding and cost analysis was the most appealing part of the program to them. Recently, they acquired one of their suppliers — Fine Feathers Kombucha — and the couple will apply some of the business mentoring to that business as well.

Meatless Tacos

Pancho’s Vegan Tacos, 1837 E. Seventh St., soft-opened this week, will a formal opening this Friday, April 9. The converted Craftsman bungalow formally was home to Pizzanista! on Seventh Street.

Owner Sacbe Meling is an animal sanctuary owner, businessman and vegan.

Clear Message

Local public relations consultant Leslie A.M. Smith, owner of McCormick L.A., is hosting a free Zoom webinar from noon until 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 22. 

“Escape Marketing Mania — Back to Basics” is a one-hour workshop she created to help small businesses and solopreneurs become clear about their marketing building blocks and who their customer is before they start promoting it. 

“I’ve worked with many business owners, and even nonprofit founders, who completely bypass this step,” Smith said. “They run themselves ragged with Facebook and Twitter posts without clear messaging and without knowing who they need to reach.”

Attendees must register to receive the Zoom link and downloadable materials. Visit www.McCormickLA.com to enroll. For more information, email Smith at Leslie@McCormickLA.com or call (562) 618-0071. 

House Hunting Help

CaliforniaListings.com launched this week as a residential real estate resource website. The site features daily data-driven content and showcases agents, and their listings, in each respective California neighborhood.

“California Listings was born in Long Beach. In fact, Jeff Anderson, a big realtor in Long Beach, was the first to join this network,” said Frankie Morales, co-founder and publisher of the listing guide as well as partner with Long Beach’s St. Nick’s Christmas Lighting.

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