Chef Michael Mina is departing from Bungalow Kitchen in Long Beach, as owner Brent Bolthouse pivots the business at 2nd & PCH back to what he says is the space’s original intention — a massive bar and lounge with snacks and music. That means an entire overhaul of the menu, sans the famous Bay Area chef Mina, and a light refresh of the space itself, which will cause Bungalow to close soon ahead of a planned reopening later in the spring.
Nightlife veteran Bolthouse emphasizes that Bungalow Kitchen’s closure is not permanent or even unexpected; rather it is a new attempt at his first idea, he says. “I am really good at creating vibes, and that’s what I do best,” says Bolthouse. “I create spaces that cater to the bar life. The space was designed and built for this when we started construction before the pandemic: DJs, lounge service, [and] bar vibes. And there was always an intention to return to the original plan. Now is finally the time to do it.”
It’s worth noting that in 2018, when plans for Bungalow in Long Beach first surfaced, Bolthouse did lean into his planned partnership with Mina, hinting at a restaurant-specific menu that would include small plates, sandwiches, and larger shared entrees — not just Mina as a chef consultant offering bar snacks. “For years I have said that the only way I would ever open another restaurant would be with Michael Mina,” Bolthouse said at the time in a press release.
Regardless, this new change-up marks a major pivot for what is 2nd & PCH’s most unique space. As the outdoor mall’s anchor restaurant tenant, Bungalow sits on 10,000 square feet spread across multiple dining and drinking areas as well as a wide patio with views out to the water. It has become an upscale lounge for a luxury night out, and the Mina attachment certainly helped to bring in an audience.
The pandemic did force Bolthouse and Mina to move into a restaurant-focused business model, with bars and clubs largely left out of early reopenings and government assistance plans. “It was a beautiful disaster,” Bolthouse recalls of those early months. So he re-approached Mina about a bigger restaurant partnership, (though not without “hesitation on Mina’s behalf”), something that would go beyond sibling Bungalow properties in Santa Monica and Huntington Beach. The Long Beach space eventually became Bungalow Kitchen, with Mina taking full responsibility for the food menu. Bungalow Kitchen opened in March 2021 with Mina’s food quickly finding a following.
Now, less than two years later, Bungalow will drop the “Kitchen” part to return to more of a bar and lounge by mid-March. There will still be a small snack menu when the space reopens after that, but Mina is no longer attached to the food here in Long Beach; Bolthouse is going it alone to bring back the boisterous lounge vibes that he’s had so much success with. “Of course, it’s what I do,” he says. Expect a return this spring in Long Beach, while a separate Bungalow Kitchen is still in operation up in Tiburon, CA, north of San Francisco.