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John Morris, Partner And GM Of McKenna's On The Bay
December 4, 2012 - There's a name in this town that makes Long Beach residents, business owners and elected officials react. Like him or not, John Morris has made a dent in this community, starting with the opening of Legends Sports Bar in 1979.
After nearly a decade running a successful operation at Legends in Belmont Shore, Morris opened Mums Restaurant at 144 Pine Ave. in 1988. He served as president of the Downtown Long Beach Associates for several years, working on a revival of the main artery of downtown. In the 1990s, Morris was recognized as one of the most influential businessmen in Long Beach.
He eventually closed Mums and reopened the restaurant as Smooth's Sports Grille, bringing the sports bar concept to Pine Avenue. He closed Smooth's in 2010 and in February 2011 joined McKenna's on the Bay at Alamitos Bay Landing as its manager.
He has since become general manager and a partner in McKenna's, and this year he got re-involved with Legends Sports Bar. Morris sat down with the Business Journal to discuss his entrepreneurial ventures in Long Beach, the bumps in the road along his journey and what it's like to have his business career come full circle.
LBBJ: Some have said you pioneered a revival of Pine Avenue by opening Mum's in the late 1980s. You spent 30 years working on Pine Avenue before closing down Smooth's in 2010 and leaving downtown. Do you think Pine Avenue needs a revival and, if so, what do you think would bring a revival to the street?
Morris: I think at the end of the day the revival for Pine Avenue and all of downtown will be the future development of high-density residential. That's the only real thing that's going to make it all work. And I mean all, not just The Pike or Pine or the East Village.
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