Nestled between a tackle shop and a Vietnamese restaurant near the intersection of Anaheim and Temple, Joe Jost's stands as the last reminder of old Long Beach on a street dense with Asian restaurants. With its red, white and blue canvas awning hanging over the French doors, Joe's looks out of place in its own neighborhood, but it still packs 'em in, especially at lunchtime. The roughness of the neighborhood has thinned out the dinner crowd.
Joe Jost opened the business in 1924 as a barber shop, turning it into a tavern nine years later at the end of Prohibition. For a while, he went on doing haircuts in the bar, but when officials ruled that simultaneously cutting hair and serving beer was something of a health risk, Jost eliminated the barber chairs. Nonetheless, Joe's still has that familiar barber shop feel, and until recently a candy-striped barber's pole hung by the front door.
The tavern, in the Jost family for three generations, has changed little in that time, from the tiled linoleum floor to the darkly stained wooden booths and tables to the counter and back bar. The walls are thick with pictures: portraits of the first two Josts, photos of such barber shop icons as John Wayne and a 14-point stag, and of customers in their Joe Jost's T-shirts standing in front of world landmarks (a practice known as Josting).