Cesar Garay shakes hands with Pablo Lopez and Juan Torres looks on positively

An atmosphere of camaraderie and gratitude greeted the latest Clean and Safe Team Employees of the Quarter when they gathered with their colleagues recently at ISM Brewing on The Promenade to receive their awards.

Pablo Lopez and Patrick Takahashi, both members of the Clean Team, got rousing ovations as they were presented with their certificates by Block by Block Operations Manager Cesar Garay and Downtown Long Beach Alliance Operations Manager Juan Torres.

James Ahumada poses with Cesar Garay, Pablo Lopez (award recipient) and Juan Torres

“Pablo has a great attitude,” said Garay. “He’s always working with a smile. We can count on him. Patrick is here consistently, always grinding away, taking care of everything on his routes.”

Lopez, a Long Beach resident since 2019, was born and raised in Pomona, where he became a member of the first graduating class at the Fremont Academy of Engineering and Design. He moved Downtown 10 years ago to be with his girlfriend Linda, and on Valentine’s Day they finally tied the knot!

“I wake up with a smile every day, knowing I’m about to do what I love to do,” said Lopez, who also performs his duties in other Long Beach districts alongside Downtown. “My company Block by Block partnered up with the Zaferia and Midtown Business Associations. In those districts, I perform the usual Clean Team duties, such as de-weeding, maintaining tree wells, sweeping up broken glass, and more,” he explained.

During off days, Pablo and Linda like to frequent the Feline Good Social Club on Atlantic and 4th. “It’s a place where, basically, you pay to play with a bunch of cats,” he said. “They just lounge around you. For a while we were doing Tai Chi in the morning before going. We like peaceful, relaxing days off.”

James Ahumada poses with Cesar Garay, Patrick Takahashi (award recipient) and Juan Torres

Takahashi commutes to work from his residence in West Athens, an unincorporated community located between Watts and Gardena. He has been working his Downtown routes five days a week for just over a year. “I’m a floater, so I’ll fill any open route where I’m needed,” he said.

He learned about the Clean Team position after applying for a truck driver job in Downtown. He soon found himself wearing the Clean Team’s trademark red shirt, maintaining cleanliness on Downtown streets.

Takahashi, who is single and looking for the right partner (‘You’ve got to stay vigilant!” he told us), loves to collect and watch action films. “I like Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. ‘I’ll be back!'” he intoned, flexing his biceps.

ISM Owner Ian poses with Austin Metoyer

Owner of ISM Brewing, Ian, poses with Austin Metoyer, DTLB Alliance President and CEO

ISM Brewing owner Ian McCall was in the award-winning spirit, having just picked up five medals himself — including a gold and a silver — at the Brewers Cup of California. “As a new business in Long Beach, we’re honored that the [Downtown Long Beach Alliance] wanted us to host this luncheon, and that we have a space large enough to accommodate everybody,” said McCall as he watched his DTLB Alliance and Block by Block guests making multiple trips to the buffet of ISM’s nachos, sandwiches, and fries. “We definitely appreciate everything that the [Downtown Long Beach Alliance], Block by Block, and the Clean and Safe Teams do for us.”