Clocked Out: A centennial grocery store and a lagoonside stroll

Save this quaint Belmont Heights itinerary for a sunny day.

Clocked Out: A centennial grocery store and a lagoonside stroll
Ma n’ Pa Grocery and the Colorado Lagoon. Photos by Kat Schuster.

Today, we’re talking about sitting lagoonside, hoagie in one hand and a beverage of your choosing in the other — hot coffee, maybe an iced tea, a Martinelli’s apple juice or perhaps another (ahem) ice-cold adult beverage.

But where will we find such a body of water to sit beside — and what of the Martinelli’s?

This itinerary is set in Belmont Heights and preferably on a sunny day — though June gloom may give you a run for your money. But cloudy or clear, here’s what you’ll do.

First, you’ll pay a visit to Ma n’ Pa Grocery, and then, you’ll mosey over to the Colorado Lagoon. You’ll either enjoy your eats at Ma n’ Pa’s, which has two quaint patio areas lush with shrubbery, or you’ll take the food with you to enjoy beside the lagoon.

Ma n’ Pa Grocery - 346 Roycroft Ave.

Ma n’ Pa Grocery’s back patio. Photo by Kat Schuster.

When I first visited this Long Beach gem, it was by accident. I had been walking up Roycroft Avenue in the Belmont Heights area several years ago on my way to the Colorado Lagoon when I spotted a rugged, wood cabin-esque general store that looked like it belonged somewhere in Tahoe or Big Sur.

Ma n’ Pa Grocery originally opened in 1921 as Jones Market. And today, it still offers the neighborhood it’s nestled in what I imagine it did 100+ years ago — fresh produce, meals made to order, canned goods, hot coffee, cold drinks, flowers, natural Jerky and more. It even has a lending library out front.

IMO, if we were a proper society, we’d have a snack-sized grocer like this one every five blocks.

Kat Schuster was laid off from the Long Beach Post on March 22, yet she still authors Clocked Out and serves as editor of the Watchdog without pay. Thank her for her work.

Ma n’ Pa Grocery has hot coffee, beer, avocados, household items, toiletries, meals fresh to order and more. Photo by Kat Schuster.

Ma n’ Pa is Renee and Zach Henderson, the friendly husband and wife duo who bought the grocery store some two decades ago.

The Henderson’s and company make sure the shop is stocked daily with dozens of pre-made sandwiches and other goodies. The deli offers lunch and dinner entrees daily including grilled salmon, meatloaf, filet mignon, BBQ ribs, chicken, Italian sausage and chile relleno. Side options include au gratin potatoes, Spanish rice, grilled veggies, broccoli salad, potato salad and more.

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My personal favorite? Their chocolate-dipped strawberries.

Sandwiches, either pre-made or assembled to order, are all around $10 (they’re huge). Breakfast burritos hover around $11, depending on how many goodies you want to stuff inside.

Out front, you can choose a seat along any of the picnic benches to enjoy your breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or you can head to their lush backyard and pick a seat there. (Pssst, they also have a decent tall boy selection).

Bone apple tea.

Colorado Lagoon - 5059 E Colorado St.

The Colorado Lagoon aglow during sunset. Photo by Kat Schuster.

Next, we’re going to take our full belly, or our to-go meal, on a two-minute walk to the Colorado Lagoon. If you used to read Off the Clock in ~ a publication that shall not be named ~ you know how much I love this park.

Betty Benderson III once tweeted a reply to one of those columns, validating my love affair with the lagoon: “Lounging in the lagoon grass w/ friends is a vibe unmatched.” Couldn’t agree more, Betty.

My favorite time to visit the lagoon is high noon, just after the morning clouds have parted. Sunset is also gorgeous, as evidenced in the photo above. To get to the spot in the photo, you can either park here or walk from Ma n’ Pa’s on East Colorado Street until you reach a dock that connects to a trail. That short trail wends around the Lagoon until you reach a grassy oasis along Sixth Street between the trail and Monrovia Avenue.

Aside from your Ma n’ Pa haul, bring a blanket to sit on, perhaps a board game or some playing cards if you’re going with friends and bask in this simple Belmont Heights journey.

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