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Locol’s Slow Growth Keeps it Local, Not National

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At least for now

Ellen Fort

Locol’s healthy and community-focused fast food project is still finding its footing, financially speaking, with one of its celebrity chef co-founders, Roy Choi, hinting that there’s still not much profit to speak of. But in a loose, lengthy interview with Giant Robot Media, he positions the financial success of the business as, at least for the moment, somewhat beside the point.

“If we’re only in it for the money, there’s no reason to build a Locol in Watts,” Choi remarks. The other location of Locol is in West Oakland after a different location, in Uptown Oakland, closed abruptly.

To the California Sunday magazine this spring, Locol’s other co-founder, Daniel Patterson, confided that “We thought we might do $6,000 a day [at Watts Locol]. We’re doing $2,300, and that just covers payroll.” That prompted Patterson to make product changes, like redesigning the Locol cheeseburger.

“It's designed to make profit of course,” Choi told Giant Robot of the Locol concept. “I hope this thing makes millions and billions of dollars. I hope the money is flowing, but that money's going to go back to the community,” Choi says, emphasizing that “It’s not going to go to us as owners.”

Choi also implicitly admits that Locol’s growth has been slower than anticipated. “We built this project to grow and to eventually be in like five cities by now,” he says.

Locol’s critical reception, if it matters, has been mixed. A zero-star Pete Wells review in the New York times was clearly ego bruising, while later, a Jonathan Gold Restaurant of the Year award from the LA Times was an obvious ego boost. Choi appears to dismiss them both equally. “We don't care about the accolades and awards,” Choi claims.


2216 Broadway, oakland, ca