Hambone's Bar and Grill, a mainstay of Huntington Beach known for its exceptional barbecue, unexpectedly shut down on Sunday due to a parking lot construction debacle that slashed customer parking spaces. Lillian Bitar and her husband Bill, owners of the establishment, recounted the painful decision to shutter the location after a challenging situation with a construction project that commenced in March severely limited their customer's parking options. "We jumped in sales by around 30 percent between 2021 and 2022 but then in March of 2023 after parking became an issue, we saw a decline," Bill Bitar opened up in an interview with The Orange County Register.
The Bitars lamented the forced closure, noting that before the parking fiasco, business was booming, a testament to the hard work and customer loyalty they've cultivated; now the once plentiful 30 parking spots were whittled down to four, causing diners to consistently bemoan the parking struggles. Keenan Handy, whose pitmaster skills have defined Hambones' savory reputation, is also cutting loose from the Huntington Beach site, which since its April 2015 inception has drawn countless devotees of his flavorsome brisket, beef, and pork ribs, among other slow-smoked delights.
Despite the setback, the Bitars hold onto the hope of making a comeback in Orange County. "I would love to return to Orange County, and we’re optimistic about that," Lillian Bitar told The Orange County Register, expressing her emotional ties with their clientele and the hardship faced by their now unemployed staff. The Bellflower location of Hambones at 9825 Belmont St. remains open, inviting loyal customers to continue enjoying their barbecue favorites even after the Huntington Beach site's unplanned curtain fall.
As the community bids farewell, Hambone’s addressed their patrons directly on Instagram, "It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our community in Huntington Beach," and although their Huntington Beach doors are closing, catering requests are still welcome via phone at (714) 968-1261. They made sure to remind their followers, as seen on their Instagram post. They thanked their customers for years of friendship and patronage, urging them to stay connected for updates and to drop by their Bellflower spot, reassuring them that gift cards will still be honored there.
The tight-knit barbecue community and local dining scene have certainly felt the sting of this sudden goodbye. As the Bitars and their staff grapple with this transition, Hambones assures them that it isn't the end of the road. With the Bellflower branch holding the fort and the Bitars' eyes set on a future return to Orange County, the legacy of their beloved barbecue joint hangs on a note of optimism amid trying times.