Plancha Latin Kitchen, a Latin-American inspired fast-casual-plus concept, will open its first location in Long Beach at the end of October and invites hungry food lovers to enjoy Latin specialties prepared in the open kitchen on the plancha. Conceptualized by a team of industry veterans from various cultures with a passion for incredible guest service and extraordinary food, Plancha Latin Kitchen will offer customizable and unique Latin-inspired dishes. The menu will include selections like savory and sweet empanadas, patacones, arepas, cubanos, layered Latin flavored bowls, and more, along with craft beers on tap, Latin American wines, housemade sangria, and organic sodas. The highly-anticipated first location of Plancha Latin Kitchen will open at the popular Long Beach Exchange center near Long Beach Airport.
“This restaurant has been in the works for years,” said Endie Widjaja, Owner of Plancha Latin Kitchen. “We had our team solidified, menu conceptualized, and marketing strategy buttoned-up—all we were waiting for was the perfect spot to debut our first location. Long Beach is the middle ground between Orange County and Los Angeles, and once this opening is under our belts, we plan to expand the concept throughout Southern California and beyond.”
The expansive menu, expertly curated by Consulting Chef Katie Sutton, offers build-your-own Latin-inspired bowls with protein options like Pescado (seasonal fish with Latin sofrito and cooked in a banana leaf), Ropa Vieja (shredded beef, onion, bell pepper, tomato, garlic, and red wine), Chipotle Rubbed Cauliflower Steak, and more, as well as handheld Latin specialties like Arepas, Classic Cuban Sandwiches cooked on the plancha, Patacone open-face sandwiches, among many others.
“When I started working on this project, I realized that I already owned over 50 Latin American cookbooks that I had been collecting from my travels,” said Chef Katie. “Latin flavors are my favorite to work with – dozens of combinations, the ability to cater to various dietary restrictions, and endless opportunities to be creative. Plus I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to work with my former colleagues on another project!”
The design of the restaurant can be described as modern Latin with Southern California flare – reclaimed wood with hand-poured concrete installations, lava stone walls with sprawling moss, natural quartz stone, hammered copper paneling, and bold pops of color throughout the space. The dining area features booths, benches, and a large communal table made from natural walnut, perfectly blending the modern aesthetic with warm touches. The menu will be featured as a large wall when guests first walk in, with a wrap-around counter that guests follow to complete the ordering experience. The concept worked with Debbie Waggaman Architects, Arch5 Design, Moniker Group, Inc., and MDM Construction on the build-out and design of the space.
“Plancha Latin Kitchen will be fast-casual-plus—counter service that becomes a full-dining experience once the food arrives at the table,” said Jorge Healy, President of Plancha Latin Kitchen. “Servers will have devices allowing them to make additions to orders, including beverages like craft beers, a glass of Latin-American wine, housemade Sangria, desserts, appetizers and more. Our team thoughtfully perfected the dining experience to prevent guests from leaving their seats and waiting in line.”
“In addition to the fantastic food and beautiful ambiance, the service will be unmatched,” Healy continued. “We hired our team based on personality more than skill. We looked for people who live to serve, and we found just that. We followed guidelines I created called ‘The Experience’ because everyone who walks through our doors will experience an atmosphere where they feel welcomed, are treated kindly, and served by the happiest people in the industry. We ask a lot of our employees, and in-turn, we give a lot too. We are committed to creating a fun, positive atmosphere where our employees feel like family. Our team will be constantly learning. We believe that cross-training is the breeding ground for teamwork. Because, how can a team really work together unless they know how to help each other properly?”
“After spending many years working with multiple restaurant brands, a group of seasoned and passionate restaurant veterans came together to establish a brand of our own—something we could all contribute to and be proud of,” Plancha’s Vice President of Marketing Christina Fumia said. “Collectively, the pedigree is very strong. Our team has worked at major brands like El Pollo Loco, Taco Bell, Mimi’s Café, Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar, California Fish Grill, Togo’s, Chili’s, Yard House, Marie Callender’s, Steak N’ Shake, Church’s Chicken, and Hess Collection Winery. We all offer something unique in our roles, and are excited to bring the best of the industry to Long Beach.”