Community Comes Together to Save Beloved Bar That’s Been Open for Nearly a Century – NBC Los Angeles

on Jan25
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Many bars and restaurants have been struggling to stay alive through this pandemic.

Thirsty Isle is one of Long Beach’s oldest bars. It has a college and community feel.

The owner, James DeBois, decided to sell off all his bar goods he’s been collecting over the years to try and make some money and keep his business open.

Thirsty Isle in Long Beach has been open for nearly 100 years.

It’s passed through different ownership over that time and has faced many challenges. But nothing quite like COVID-19, which has kept them closed for nearly a year.

“We are not allowed to open, and I understand that. How do you make money to pay your bills? It’s the worst I’ve ever seen,” said DeBois.

DeBois has owned the bar for more than 30 years.

Once the pandemic hit they shut their doors, and he began reaching into his own pocket to cover the costs that kept coming, like his $6,000 a month rent.

“I’m 59 planning on retirement and have used most of my money to refinance and done things to keep the place going during this,” he said.

During this time as a bar owner, he’s collected vintage lights, neon signs, slot machines and lots of decor.

He decided to have a yard sale Sunday at the bar to try and make some money back.

“It was amazing. I was shocked,” DeBois said.

He and his staff couldn’t believe the turnout of customers who came back to show their support as they lined up and purchased the items for sale.

“We come here a lot, it’s our favorite spot. Thirsty Isle — we have been coming here since like 2010,” one customer said.

“It just shows you how much they really are hurting. They want to stay open, so it’s up to us as a community to meet them halfway,” another customer said.

DeBois says the experience has been overwhelming and some people have even tried to overpay and offer donations.

“A sign that was here — this morning — the guy goes, what do you want for it? I said $125 and he goes, what if I give you $300? I mean the people have been outstanding. I said give me $250. I couldn’t take his $300. I felt horrible,” DeBois said.

They sold almost every item they put out, and it looks like it’s adding up enough to cover at least a month’s rent.

The bar has also started a GoFundMe account. They said anyone who donates should save their receipt, and they’ll be offered specials when they finally are able to open back up.

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