KUBO LB, a new space dedicated to welcoming people of color, women and members of the LGBTQ community, celebrated its soft opening in Bixby Knolls on Wednesday.

KUBO, located at 3976 Atlantic Ave., is expected to officially open in early March, and it’s meant to provide a collaborative environment for small businesses to grow, while also providing a space for the community to gather.

“We’re creating a community space for Filipinx, Latinx, BIPOC, LGBTQ entrepreneurs, community members to just come and be together and share space, your creativity, share ideas and just build relationships,” said Jhoanna Belfer, owner of Bel Canto Books, one of the businesses featured in KOBU’s new space.

The name “Kubo” comes from the term “bahay kubo,” which is a traditional Filipino house made out of indigenous materials. “Bahay” means house, and “kubo” is the material the house is made out of, explained Belfer.

“What was great about those homes is they’re on stilts, and in the Philippines, there’s a lot of flooding and typhoons, so you could literally pick up your house and move it,” Belfer said. “It’s just a way of talking about our heritage and celebrating the great things that our community can bring to the larger Long Beach community.”

This is Bel Canto Books’ second location; after beginning as a monthly pop-up book club in 2018, the business moved into a brick-and-mortar space in The Hangout on Fourth Street the following year.

The bookstore celebrates historically marginalized authors and artists, and Belfer plans to host author events in-store, with the first event on Sunday, Feb. 5, at 11 a.m.

The event will feature two Filipina authors: Tracy Badua, author of, “This is Not a Personal Statement,” and Laurel Flores Fantauzzo, author of, “My Heart Underwater.”

A person looks through the books at Bel Canto Books, one of the businesses joining the KUBO space on Atlantic Avenue. Photo by Jackie Rae.

“I’ve been hearing from everybody who’s been coming in that they’re so excited to have a bookstore in the neighborhood again,” said Belfer. “I think people are just hungry to find spaces to celebrate books, to read great stories, and meet neighbors and be inspired.”

Particularly since the pandemic, many people are returning to things that brought them joy, from cooking, to gardening, to reading, Belfer said.

“I think that’s been a huge plus for indie bookstores,” Belfer said. “We’ve been seeing a renaissance now of a lot of independent brand new bookstores opening up, especially by small business owners who are BIPOC or LGBTQ, because we’re just trying to find creative ways to open new stores and be in the community.”

Belfer is excited to join the numerous other businesses on Atlantic Avenue, a neighborhood that is primed for a space like Bel Canto Books, she said.

“I think it’s great to have another opportunity to bring something new to the community,” Belfer said.

Follow Bel Canto Books and KUBO on Instagram to stay up-to-date on the grand opening and upcoming events.