The Forum Blues Cafe survives pandemic hurdles and attracts Kobe Bryant fans with its menu

Photo by Manny B. Sandoval: The Forum Blues is located at the historic Rialto Metrolink, but owner Terrance Harper (pictured) assures that it’s the love across social media that has solidified the restaurant’s success.
Local Advertisement[adrotate group="1"]

Terrance Harper, owner of The Forum Blues Cafe and mega Los Angeles Lakers fan says social media, especially Instagram and Yelp, helped his business survive the toughest parts of the pandemic.

Known for its Southern and Mexican fusion of foods, the restaurant went from 17 employees all the way down to three at the onset of the pandemic, which occurred while the establishment was at its peak, after opening in 2018.

“The toughest part of the pandemic was losing a lot of our employees and operating a to-go kitchen with only three or four people. We’ve since recovered, but are currently hiring,” said Harper.

The four-star restaurant is located on the same lot as the Rialto Metrolink Station, but that’s not necessarily what’s attracting The Forum Blues customers, it’s actually social media; as of April 2022 it has 901 Yelp reviews.

Local Advertisement[adrotate group="1"]

“Social media really helped us survive the pandemic. It really helped the community keep up with us and see what we were cooking up during periods of quarantine and the shut-down. But since then our social media has attracted celebrities to dine in and follow us like E-40, Lil Boosie, Ron Artest (now Metta Sandiford-Artest) and a handful of others,” continued Harper.

Photo by The Forum Blues Cafe: The Hot Mamba is a fan favorite, named after Los Angeles Lakers Superstar Kobe Bryant when the restaurant opened in 2018.

While the restaurant has received lots of celebrity and community love, it was a shout-out by ESPN that resulted in a line wrapped around the building.

“Since a child, I’ve always been a huge Lakers fan and when I opened in 2018 we had a Hot Mamba, Black Mamba and Mamba Cita on the menu; which was inspired by the late Kobe Bryant. So when Kobe and Gigi passed away in January 2020, ESPN took notice as The Forum Blues started getting shout-outs from Ron Artest and Steven Jackson sharing that I always had these items on the menu and had already named these three meals after Kobe,” said Harper.

He said that at the time of Kobe and Gigi’s memorial service, the restaurant hosted a packed house and on the one-year anniversary of the tragic passing, he hosted a $2.24 special for the Hot Mamba, Black Mamba, and the Mamba Cita; which resulted in a line wrapped around the building.

The Hot Mamba is described as a hot chicken sandwich with jalapeno coleslaw and chipotle ranch on a brioche bun, while the Black Mamba Sandwich includes bacon, eggs, hash browns, cheddar & sriracha mayo on brioche bun, and the Mamba Cita is a fried chicken sandwich with applewood smoked bacon, pepper jack cheese, and ranch.

Harper says growing up in Long Beach inspired his love of Southern and Mexican food, as he primarily grew up amongst the Black and Latino cultures.

“Some other popular items on the menu include our fried chicken nachos, churro waffles, and the Hennessy wings. I invite the community to come out, every Saturday between 10:30 am and 2:30 pm, we have live music,” Harper said.

When he is not in the kitchen at The Forum Blues, which was named after the Inglewood Forum and Los Angeles Lakers, he can be found in his home kitchen cooking his ground turkey meatloaf specialty and a deep friend pb&j sandwich. The Forum Blues is located at 261 S Palm Ave, Rialto. For more information, visité-rialto.

Local Advertisement[adrotate group="1"]