Jack’s Shoe Repair

Richard Brown started his career shining shoes at Ocean Boulevard and Pine Avenue back in the 1940s. “It was quite a deal down at the Pike and the underground stores down there off of Ocean Boulevard,” he recalled. Brown went to work for a shoe repair shop in Bixby Knolls before being hired by Jack Edwards of Jack’s Shoe Repair at 4131 N. Viking Way. Brown took over the shop in 1955 and has been there ever since. “It has changed a lot because everybody is wearing more of those tennis shoes,” he said. “But the quality of shoes that are made now aren’t the quality they used to be.” When Brown first started working on shoes, school children typically wore two-toned Oxford shoes, he recalled. Many of Brown’s clients have stayed on with him through the decades. “Yesterday, a lady was in here. She came in here with her mother when she was just a little young girl, and now she’s 55 years old,” he said. In addition to shoe repair, Brown also works on belts, purses and sometimes suitcases. He estimates he has worked on more than 10 million shoes in his lifetime. “I am 85 now, and I hope to work to about 87. And then I’ll retire, I think. Maybe,” he said. For more information, call: 562/429-7914.


Village Cafe

For 17 years, Village Cafe has occupied the storefront at 4148 N. Viking Way. Owner Paul McMurtrie said he was tired of his job at the Auto Club and that he had been in and out of the restaurant business when he was young, which led him to open the breakfast and lunch cafe. “The best part of owning the cafe is being part of the community,” McMurtrie said. “We’re kind of old school, so we get some older people in here, and . . . it’s sad when people pass.” McMurtrie said living a quarter mile away isn’t so bad either. The cafe has about 15 employees, including longtime kitchen staff, some of which have been with him from the start. He said everything in the cafe is homemade, including jams and six different kinds of salsa, and that only high-quality ingredients are used in all their dishes. The most popular dish is the huevos rancheros, according to McMurtrie. He noted that the restaurant is also known for its thin, spongy pancakes and 20 different omelets. “We’re just a good local place that likes to take care of its customers,” McMurtrie said. “I like to tell people, ‘You can come by yourself, but you’re not alone.’” For more information, call 562/421-5515.


Studio DeLucca

Khobe DeLucca opened her own jewelry business, Studio DeLucca, at 5403 Village Rd. in 2008 after having worked in the industry since the late 1990s. “I have been working in the jewelry business since 1997. I worked for years for a designer that had work in upper-end department stores like Barney’s New York and Neiman Marcus,” she said. DeLucca studied with master goldsmiths and attended a small diamond setting school in the Nashville area, eventually earning a GIA graduate gemologist certification. When she first set up shop in Parkview Village, she sold her works through catalogs and trade shows. She has moved away from that and now focuses primarily on individual clients. “The best part of the business for me is working with clients to create heirloom pieces for themselves and their families, from wedding rings to anniversary pieces to reworking Grandma’s old diamonds,” DeLucca said. “Those pieces that are very personal and custom are really the specialty here and really where my heart is at.” DeLucca also has two collections, one focused on sterling silver and one on precious stones. “My favorite part of the work is gold, most of the time recycled gold and diamonds,” she said. “The aesthetic really ranges from classic to like a contemporary, stackable look.” For more information, visit: studiodelucca.com.


The Rok Music Academy

After more than 40 years as a professional bass player, Brad Cummings decided to open a learning institution dedicated to teaching students how to rock. For three years, Cummings and his wife, Stephanie, pictured, have owned and operated The Rok Music Academy at 5465 E. Carson St. “At this stage of the game, and having kids, I realized how many distractions the next generation has that would prevent them from touching a real musical instrument,” Cummings said. The facility offers students instruction in singing, guitar, bass, piano, keyboard, ukulele and drums, as well as songwriting, artist development, music theory and composition, live performance, recording and producing. Though most of his academy’s students are kids, Cummings said he and his nine instructors have worked with students ranging from 1 1/2 years old to 70 years old. Most notably, Cummings has worked with artists such as Scott Weiland of the Stone Temple Pilots, Patrick Simmons of The Doobie Brothers and Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night. “The young ones are really fun,” Cummings said. “The young girl singers – they’re always scared to death the first time on stage. And then 10 shows later, their level of comfort and showmanship has blossomed, and that’s really cool to see.” For more information, visit www.therokacademy.com.


Once Read Books

Roger Grunke has owned and operated Once Read Books in Long Beach for 30 years. Originally near the intersection of Woodruff Avenue and Carson Street, Grunke relocated in December 1999 to the current location at 5422 E. Village Rd. “I’ve always loved books,” Grunke said. “I was a recreation therapist, and I didn’t like it. So it just seemed like an interesting thing, and people were very supportive at the time, and I went for it. I’ve been very happy since.” With only one employee, Grunke said at any one time, the used bookstore has around 65,000 books, the oldest of which currently dates back to the late 1700s. He explained that most of his stock comes from estate sales and that he will get calls from relatives asking for an offer on all the books in the house. Sometimes, Grunke said he would search through estate sales on his own or go to auctions for fun. Another big aspect of the business is trading. Grunke said many customers bring in books for store credit toward their purchase, while others sell him books for cash. “Buying the books is the best part,” Grunke said. “It’s like a treasure hunt.” For more information, visit www.oncereadbooks.com.


Parkview Pet Hospital

Maggie Gamble opened Parkview Pet Hospital at 4103 N. Viking Way in 2009 after years of working at other veterinary practices and hospitals in Long Beach. “I have worked in Long Beach since 1989 in various animal hospitals, but I live in the South Bay,” she said. “I thought that there was sort of a need for a smaller, more family friendly type animal hospital that is different than the big corporations that are owning many animal hospitals now,” she explained. “And then the clients and the pets when they go there, they sometimes just feel like a number. So I wanted something that has a smaller, more personal feel to it where we would feel like we know our clients.” Opening the hospital at the end of a recession was “a bit scary,” but the business has done well, Gamble said. Gamble has wanted to be a veterinarian since she was a kid. “My favorite thing is getting to know the owners and the pets, like, as a bonded unit,” she said. Parkview Pet Hospital treats cats and dogs and offers exams for sick pets, in-house blood testing and X-rays, dentistry, surgery and some grooming. In the future, Gamble hopes to bring on another veterinarian so the hospital can expand its hours. For more information, visit www.parkviewpetvet.com.

Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.