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Roy Choi Makes Tough Call on Locol, Closing Watts Restaurant

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“We are still here” he says, as the company moves into catering

Locol in Watts
Emerson Collective
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson have officially pulled the plug on Locol in Watts, at least in its current iteration. The forward-thinking duo designed the South LA restaurant to be a direct competition to unhealthy fast food chains, but so far have struggled to find a way for the restaurant to flourish.

In a note posted to social media last night, ownership said:

We are just leaving retail store ops for now (facility will remain open as a catering event space) to find the most profitable path for growth for our communities and the company... Thank you all in LA for the support and to the cities of Watts. Oakland, and San Jose, one love.

Instead, the post reads, Locol will transition to “full time catering” with the ability to use the existing Watts space as a sort of commissary kitchen and occasional event location, as needed. The team also still has their Locol truck, though its unclear what will happen to the company’s existing San Jose window location. Previously, Locol had locations in Oakland as well, but those outlets struggled in the immediate aftermath of a ravaging zero-star review by NY Times critic Pete Wells.

The loss of Locol as a traditional dining establishment comes not long after Roy Choi moved on from a five-year contract at The Line Hotel in Koreatown, closing all of his restaurants there while transitioning to a big new project in Las Vegas. Patterson is still on track to open an LA outlet of his restaurant Alta in West Adams early this fall.

Locol will switch to the catering-only model as of this Thursday, which doesn’t leave much time to still get down to the restaurant for foldies and bowls.

Locol. 1950 E. 103rd St., Los Angeles, CA.