R Bar Celebrates a Year of Local Love

 
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R Bar Celebrates a Year of Local Love

The hospitality is so real, you’ll feel the love.

By H. K. Wilson

If you’re a Long Beach local who is looking for a place to unwind with a drink, try some tasty food and get to know your neighbors, then you’re looking for R Bar, a downtown destination where the hospitality is so real, you’ll feel the love. When owner Rakesh “Rick” Desai first imagined the concept, he envisioned a home away from home for area residents, and he enlisted the help of longtime Long Beach hospitality guru, Varouj "V" Shekerdemian, as R Bar’s operations manager. R Bar came into being with the promise of becoming “the local’s living room,” and based upon the number of neighborhood denizens assembled there on any given day, it seems it has lived up to its word.

Located at 103 W. 3rd Street between Pine and Pacific, R Bar occupies a sweet little spot in the heart of the city, but away from the tourist fray. Step inside to a rustic, open-plan space with a central, horseshoe bar designed to accommodate conversation and camaraderie. “Rick is a hospitable guy who loves entertaining people,” Varouj said. “When you walk into the space, the bar is open all way to back so nothing blocks your view or keeps you from interacting with the other guests who come into the bar. What we have created here is all about getting people talking to each other, buying each other drinks and creating community. And our prices are reasonable, so you can afford to come in often.”


More than just a bar, this is also a food destination,

with a bill of fare as diverse as the people of Long Beach. The original menu is curated to offer guests a variety of flavors from around the world and suit varying dietary preferences. Varouj explained, “At first, people were coming for drinks. But now, people are coming for the food. We are mostly a scratch kitchen and we use all fresh ingredients. If you come in with guests, we’re going to have something on the menu that will appeal to everybody, from vegan and vegetarian items to our south of the border selections.”

Menu highlights include chicken or shrimp curry derived from Rick’s legendary family recipe. For vegetarians, the buffalo cauliflower made with R Bar’s house beer batter is a special favorite. Weekly specials include Taco Tuesday featuring dollar tacos, five dollar margaritas, and three dollar tequila and draft beer. Stop in on Wednesdays after 5:00 p.m. for all-you-can-eat spaghetti made with R Bar’s signature sauce for only $5.00, and add two meatballs for only $1.00 more. 

I asked Varouj to identify his favorite item on the menu. Without hesitation, he said it is the spicy sriracha pasta, which you can eat plain or with chicken, salmon or shrimp. “We toss spaghetti with sriracha and cream, then top it with parmesan cheese. It’s simple, but clean and so good.” Intrigued, I had to try this one myself. Varouj is right — it’s some goodfood. I’ll definitely be back for more.

Varouj "V" Shekerdemian, R Bar’s operations manager.

Varouj "V" Shekerdemian, R Bar’s operations manager.

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R Bar encourages bar tenders to concoct their own special libations, so guests can enjoy craft cocktail options, as well. Liquor lockers are available for rent to accommodate storage of premium liquors. Lockers come with your own engraved plaque and VIP table service each time you visit with friends or clients. 

Patriotism is always on the drink menu, as R Bar pours Purple Heart wine, from which a portion of proceeds is donated to military veterans. “Rick is very patriotic and loves his country,” Varouj said. “One of the cool things about R Bar is the big American flag in back. We always want to give back as much as we can.”

Speaking of giving back, R Bar joined the No Straw Challenge after a guest made the suggestion. R Bar now only serves straws when they are requested by a guest. In the roughly six months since taking on the challenge, Varouj estimates that R Bar has already kept more than 26,000 straws out of the local landfill.

With 19 televisions, R Bar is also an event destination. R Bar is an official bar sponsor of the Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) with Heineken, so fans are streaming in from around the region to congregate and cheer their local heroes. This is yet another way in which R Bar is bringing neighbors together.


On May 18th, R Bar celebrated a year of love for and by locals.

Varouj said, “I’ve been in the hospitality industry for 23 years now, and I’ve learned that you can have good food and great drinks, but if you don’t provide good service, people will go someplace else. We have an atmosphere of camaraderie where people get to know each other and take care of each other. To us, they are not customers, they are guests. Coming here is like coming to my house. You can get to know your fellow neighbors. Our employees will get to know you by name, what kind of drink you drink, and have it ready for you when they see you walk in. This really is the local’s living room.”

R Bar is located at 106 W 3rd St, Long Beach, 90802 and is open Monday - Friday from 11 am to 2 am, Saturday from 10 am to 2 am and Sunday from 9 am to 2 am.