Locol is shutting down

Wonder why LAist, and others, say Locol has .failed.
As a restaurant it failed - though that was not the point, was it? As a publicity stunt to further St Choi’s canonization it has succeeded beyond all measure. And, he stared out in gangs, oh my.

Homeboy Industries hasn’t been an abject failure. Hmm, maybe Choi should copy their model instead of trying to gentrify the 'hood.

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big big thumbs down to this sentiment, and to the others on this thread bashing Roy Choi. He was emotional and perhaps overreacted to all the criticism, but I think people were also way too harsh on him. It’s a poor choice of words to say he “failed” with this version of Locol 1.0; my perspective is that they tried to do something, learned from the experience and will try to do better. Not failure by any means. At least he CARED about a community that a lot of people on here and in LA as a whole don’t think about much if at all (and going to Bludso’s in the area doesn’t count). Was Locol perfect? Obviously not. But I think if he regroups and tries again, eventually he’ll hit upon a concept/execution that can resonate with the community and also make a tangible long-lasting difference. At least that kind of attitude is more than I can say for a lot of the haters on here and elsewhere – what have you guys done for neglected neighborhoods of LA?


People who actually work there might have something different to say about that…

And, from the article, it sounds as if they’re not going to fire anyone. How many businesses hold onto their workers while they re-tool their entire concept?

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Is this the end for LocoL’s fight against America’s food deserts?

You lost me here. IMHO, it does count. If neighborhoods - any neighborhoods - have places like bludso’s, I’m up for it. And that’s the point. Neighborhoods being able to have businesses that bring in commerce create wealth and more opportunities to thrive. One business may or may not create that snowball, but it has to start somewhere.

Honey’s Kettle used to be in Compton as well. Why they moved out, I don’t know. But they are killing it in downtown Culver City. I doubt that they regret making the move, but the city of Compton probably does.


If Choi really cared much about the community, he would have tailored his concept to their tastes instead of trying to impose something onto them. Watts is a food desert – where was the access to fresh produce? Had Locol been an affordable farm-to-table concept one could actually argue that Choi was trying to help an underserved community more than just generate publicity for himself. Instead, they got another fast food place, but more expensive and “healthier” (which frankly is another judgment call on their lifestyles). But the main problem with it is that the food just didn’t taste any good.

Of course, don’t just listen to me; let the people of Watts educate you themselves.

You can try and canonize St Choi as much as you like, you can try to excuse his recent petulance on social media as “being emotonal,” and you can try to dismiss those of us who dare to criticize him in any way as “haters,” but what I think you most absolutely can NOT do is make baseless personal attacks on your fellow posters. I don’t owe you any explanation whatsoever of my background or line of work, but who the hell are you to assume I don’t spend my working hours in underserved neighborhoods advocating for those who are being exploited for lack of legal documentation by unscrupulous landlords and living in substandard conditions or helping connect people to resources so that they can improve their lives and those of their families?

That you were so quick to make that assumption reveals so much about the way you see the world. Your post would have been much more effective, and civil, had you just stuck to stating your opinion instead of attacking those you disagree with and have absolutely zero working knowledge of.


They also might not. Do you have a source? Always interested in learning more…

You know I respect you and my next comments are off-topic (kinda), but does it actually count? I know myself that I’ve felt some sort of unease about going to a poorer (for lack of a better word) area solely to eat.

While the snowball has to start somewhere, I sort of wonder if an eatery (regardless of type) is a good starter. I mean, I go to Bludso’s, I pay my money, and then I get into my car and drive straight back to West LA. I imagine many other people (although not EVERYONE) might behave the same way.

Does my money really go to “the community?” Probably not much. Am I spending more time in the area to linger and explore after I get my BBQ? No. Are the number of employees needed at such an establishment (esp one so tied to a central figure) doing much to employ local-area residents and to teach them new skills? I don’t actually know.

And then the thing is, the business moves. Two businesses, actually.

It’s sort of like a tourist effect. You get off the tour bus, you snap some photos (esp in our age of social media), and then you hop back on the tour bus w/o ever letting the place or people touch you. And w/o necessarily knowing much about what you saw. I’m not saying that this is the way you personally think or act, but I don’t think our Board (unfortunately) is really representative of… anyone.

And should “outsiders” decide that they “like” a place, then you get into the whole gentrification conversation…

Is there actually an afforable farm-to-table concept where someone can be satiated for $0.79? The article posted by @ipsedixit seemed to imply that part of the problem was a smaller business that didn’t have the same economies of scale trying to compete against a corporate behemoth that was more interested in simply stuffing customers w/ low-quality, high-filling food. The article also mentioned the silly menu names and how customers, once they actually tried the food, thought it was pretty good.

I hardly canonize Choi; I think his food has been frequently pretty awful, the few times I’ve had. And I rolled my eyes when he once talked about how A-Frame was part of the fabric of LA (huh?). But I liked that he was trying to do something helpful that was w/i his skill set. He’s not a social worker; he’s a restauranteur. People can be obnoxious but still want to do good things. Hopefully, this has been a good learning experience for him for his next concept.


But that’s kind of the point – whether or not an affordable farm-to-table concept is viable is a whole different issue, but the man wasn’t doing anything amazing for Watts other than opening yet another fast food concept and trying (and failing) to make money. Locol was/is not a 501c3. Despite the rhetoric, Choi opened a restaurant to make money, and he closed the restaurant for running out of money.

I’m a little confused, though…I never suggested you were canonizing Choi; that comment was in response to another poster. Unless…

The people who work the kitchens and the registers typically live in the community even if the owners don’t, and that’s who gets paid based on your expenditures. Furthermore, if lots of people come to a restaurant, then they can expand, renovate their business, etc. Expansions typically mean more local hires, while renovations begin to spruce up the neighborhood. The broken window theory in reverse.

I guess that’s my confusion. What was the rhetoric, other than Choi stroking his own ego? I don’t recall anyone thinking or stating that Locol was going to be anything other than a profit-making business that would also hopefully “help” (however you want to define that) the local community.

That’s assuming the business wants to stay in the neighborhood. If I’m a business person and not particularly civic-minded, and my business is attracting people w/ a good amount of discretionary income, then maybe I want to move my business closer to that population and expand to other areas w/ a similar population.

I assume, however, that that was NOT Choi’s model (esp since he already has/had business in hip areas that attract upwardly mobile types). And I think that was @brritscold’s point: that, whatever Choi-generated bluster might have been surrounding Locol, there also was also perhaps a genuinely good intention behind the whole endeavor that seems to have gotten lost in the (perhaps justifiable) snark.

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You’ve been to Bludso’s- where did one spread out to eat - comfortably? So driving all the way out there from the Westside to grab about $250-300+tip worth of bbq and head back home to enjoy it with family and friends in the comfort of my home seems fit. It’s nothing against the area - it’s the lack of a comfortable dining area (and no booze - big minus for me) that has me going back home. If it was roughly set up like the La Brea location, I would linger. And leaving my money in Compton had to be serving someone.

My wife hangs out in Inglewood all the time. No biggie I know. But Inglewood had a similar rep as Compton. The big difference is, the city has been very proactive in courting businesses of all types and sizes to their city. My wife knits and sews. Because rents are still relatively attractive, a knitting store and a sewing store opened - right by Three Weavers Brewery - another reason to linger. Who would have guessed that a brewery would have opened in Inglewood? Another one is about to open as well. Give consumers a reason to hang around and spend money in different places, and we will.

I can’t speak for Kevin Bludso (and others who’ve succeeded, then moved on from their original locations) - I can only guess. It does seem obvious that moving brought more $$$. That’s on them - can’t blame them. That’s also on the city for not being proactive (one of the most corrupt city govts over the decades). Could Compton roughly emulate Inglewood’s plan? Why not?

Bludso’s move for me has been mixed. Before, I could count on about a 40 minute drive each way. However, the bbq seemed to be inconsistent toward the last year of the Compton location.

The La Brea location has been consistently very good. However, the drive is laborious and the drive time is usually 70-100 minutes each way. This factor alone has reduced my Bludso’s habit from at least once a quarter to maybe twice a year. In other words, In this case, I personally am not lingering around either location. It’s all about getting this type of food and the logistics involved in getting it.


I agree with your points. But @bulavinaka raises some interesting points, as well. I don’t think there’s a clear answer here, but I do think food and restaurants can be powerful tools for social change and I hope restaurateurs will continue trying in areas like South LA that really need it.

Not exactly similar in situation obviously, but reading about this McDonald’s in France and the unique social role it played in the community was edifying:

Whether accidentally or not, it seems like it’s played a vital role in giving people opportunities when they had nothing else. Food for thought (pun intended).

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I guess Choi and Patterson meant well, but they made a lot of counterproductive choices. If there is only one sit-down restaurant on Watts, why open the second one a block away? Why open branches in a part of Oakland with over 50 other restaurants within a few blocks or in a Whole Foods? I’m not sure either of them has any business sense.


I hope they can be, too.

BTW, @bulavinaka, does Inglewood have some sort of master re-development/re-vitalization plan? Someone I was speaking to yesterday (in the “real” world and not related to food) referenced the how Inglewood was improving itself… If Choi really wants to help the local community, perhaps partnering up w/ some sort of master city plan might be helpful…

I personally don’t know of a specific master plan. But the huge construction projects revitalizing the the area around the Forum and former Hollywood Park racetrack are concurrent with small businesses opening and individuals moving into the residential areas.

The small business openings and increased interest in residential properties is more a function of relatively affordable real estate (for now). But it’s not just the Rams and Clippers having stadiums and arenas built for them off Prairie. FedEx had a mega warehouse built in the same area. From what I’ve heard, Fedex couldn’t find a large enough affordable plot of land elsewhere in the Westside, Midtown or Hollywood area to build a facility to their specs.

James Butts, the mayor of Inglewood, seems to be the right person in the right place and time. I don’t know if you recall, but he was a major force in Inglewood’s PD, as well as chief of Santa Monica’s PD. He also worked for the group in charge of LAX. I think he is very well connected, well educated and knows how to get bureaucracy to work for him.

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Could you two lovebirds get a room?

Wait… is Bludso’s Compton open again?

Nope; still closed.

I doubt it does. If anything the recent bait and switch from the residents for the new clippers complex shows how the city does business still… I happen to know the three different owners of the brewery and craft shops as I spend a lot of time there myself. First, they are really more “Westchester Adjacent” than in Inglewood. But in reality, they moved to that complex because their former Westside locations raised the rent or are actually being RAISED or that they looked into other Westside locations FIRST but they either were denied or would have encountered a bit more huddles and wait and they were really ready to start the business. Basically Inglewood was neither of these businesses first choice… nor were their moves really a factor of the city making some special effort to get them in…