LocoL's Recipe for Nourishing Communities

Social Justice

In the heart of Los Angeles, the neighborhood of Watts is not typically known as a place of great opportunity. Haunted by a history of riots, crime, and gang violence, residents here pay a steep price for a slanted reputation—the community has seen little of the economic growth and development occurring elsewhere around the city. New businesses are a rarity, and consequentially jobs are scarce. Families have few options beyond fast food, and a healthy meal is nearly impossible to find.

Watts isn't the only place at risk of being left behind. In major cities and rural areas across the country, communities are caught in cycles of poverty and limited opportunity. But with a bold vision, a commitment to staying local, and a stash of tasty recipes, two restaurateurs are taking on the challenge.

In January 2016, renowned chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson introduced Watts to LocoL, a restaurant completely dedicated to empowering the surrounding neighborhood. With the intent to uplift and shine a light on the potential of this overlooked community, the restaurant hires and trains only local staff who want and need jobs. The application process was simple: name, phone number, and email address—no previous experience required. Beyond hiring, LocoL is committed to purveying healthy, high-quality food at shockingly low prices.

“We have to show people that it’s good business to go into these communities where everyone says you shouldn’t go," says Patterson—and the LA neighborhood has already proven to serve up high standards for new businesses. Following the flagship location’s success, LocoL plans to open multiple other locations across the country. By focusing on community needs while building a sustainable business, LocoL offers an innovative approach to food and development in underserved parts of America.

What's Next?