Mini Blog Post: There have been rumblings up in the Bay about our decision to go into Uptown Oakland. Some fishing for clues, fishing for reasons to find a hook to cast a shade. Some just curious. Are you still going to the Tenderloin? I thought LocoL was only for undeserved communities? Is it store number three or number two? Why this location? Assumptions have already been made. I'm sure it'll be great fodder if the headline read "Daniel Patterson and Roy Choi jump ship to take care of hipsters and techies in Uptown Oakland" The fall before the rise. It's what we crave as humans. Build em up and tear em down. Well...hate to be a bearer of bad news, but I ain't here for those arrows. A part of me wanted to put two middle fingers to the sky and spit loogies like Pac and move on. But LocoL has always been about transparency and that transparency has always originated right here on my feed. We are going to not only Uptown Oakland but also East Oakland. Yes we are still going to the Tenderloin on Turk and Taylor. LocoL is for everybody. There is a whole business side of this that is too boring to write about (lease agreements, construction delays, permitting) that led us to take over half of Plum Bar. Why wait and lose momentum while we wait on East O and TL delays when we could go in and keep the momentum and offer jobs to many from East O and also continue to feed y'all? I never discriminate on who should be fed. Maybe that's the chef in me, in Daniel. The core mission of LocoL has never changed: upend the fast food industry and feed our brothers and sisters delicious healthy food at affordable prices. And those brothers and sisters include you who work in the office buildings too. This is not a normal endeavor, we have no concrete blueprint. We just know it's our mission to feed. To pigeonhole LocoL before it even has a chance to be the owl is not healthy for anyone. I'm excited to go back to the Bay. I have roots in NorCal. I cooked and ran hotels for 8 years in Tahoe, Sactown, South SF, Burlingame, Milpitas, and San Rafael. LocoL is for everybody. And it starts in Watts 1/18/16 at 11am on 1950 East 103rd Street between Grape and Anzac. Straight up. #LocoL
I am not one of those people who easily gets upset or defensive about celebrities/people I don’t know personally. But in this case, I felt myself getting miffed. In fact, I got mad. The fact that Chef Choi had to take to Instagram to deflect negative commentary or insinuations about his new fast-food concept, LocoL, before it’s even opened made me feel like there is no justice in the world.
And I am not just saying that to be dramatic or brown-nose to Choi, or his partners. The fact of the matter is that LocoL is a HUGE project with foundations in something that not many other food companies or big chefs have bothered to give a damn about: "food deserts" and nourishing the people who live in them.
The goal of LocoL is to prove that fast food doesn’t have to be destructive to human health, local communities, or the environment. In fact, here are five excellent reasons we should all back LocoL and push back on anyone who says otherwise:
2. LocoL was conceived to tackle inner-city nutrition and employment problems. Choi and his partner Daniel Patterson share a passion for feeding people. Not only because they are chefs, but also because they care deeply about the hunger crisis in this country. LocoL’s very DNA is all about addressing this issue, and providing jobs that pay more than minimum wage for people in cities and neighborhoods that have not benefited from economic prosperity, like Newark and Camden in New Jersey and south Chicago. Additionally, skills they teach to their culinary staff will be transferable to other kitchens and restaurants, so they’re essentially giving people an education while employing them. When Yahoo! Food wrote an article about LocoL, Choi tweeted back:
3. It is using quality ingredients. LocoL's food is based on real meat and grains. Not to mention that the burger “also features grilled scallion-and-lime relish…tomato, onion, garlic, and gochujang that Choi and Patterson have dubbed ‘Awesome Sauce.’” HELLO! P.S., the burger looks bossy:
5. If LocoL proves it can work, it could change “institutional eating” as we know it. Institutional food (hospitals, prisons, schools, etc.) is the way it is mostly because the people at the top insist that it has to be that way. The public is told time and time again that there is simply no other way to feed the masses. If Choi and Patterson are able to prove that it doesn’t have to be that way — that food can be fast, healthy, and affordable — it will surely have a massive impact across the industry, and you’ll be thanking them next time you have to eat a hospital or school meal.
And, no, in case you are wondering or there are any skeptics out there, this post was not paid for by LocoL. At a food conference last year, I was lucky enough to see Choi speak candidly about the project — which he has been working on for over two years now! — and he admitted that it is a huge risk that might fail, but he knew he had to do it anyway. He said something that has been a guiding principle for me ever since: