Kevin Johnson, former NBA All-Star and mayor of Sacramento, opens his restaurant Fixins Soul Kitchen today in the former Shaquille’s space at L.A. Live. If the last few weeks, which had everything from Laker and Clipper games to sellout comedy shows by Hasan Minhaj, are any indication, Downtown LA’s entertainment district looks like it’s completely back in action. Restaurants like Wolfgang Puck, Fleming’s, and Tom’s are stuffed to the gills during busy evenings, which makes the debut of Fixins all the more timely.
Johnson and wife Michelle Rhee first opened Fixins in the Oak Park neighborhood of Sacramento in 2019 with the desire to serve homestyle soul food. Building on family recipes like Grandma Gladys’s peach cobbler, the wide menu features fried chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, oxtails, and smothered pork chops. Start with fried green tomatoes with chipotle meyo, catfish nuggets, or pimento cheese dip. There are more reasonably priced burgers, fish sandwich, hot chicken sandwich, and salads. A vegan menu offers blackened tofu with corn succotash, a grilled portobello burger, and romaine-arugula salad, while sides like charred okra, black-eyed peas, and collard greens provide healthier and more LA-centric options.
Cocktails are mostly of the tacky chain restaurant-style that references the ‘90s: There’s an Adult Kool Aid with Ciroc, lavender lemon drop, watermelon daiquiri, and an Uncle Nearest mint julep. Oak Park Brewing’s craft beer highlights the draft list while a slew of beer cans and whites by the glass complete the beverage offerings.
The large space with natural woods sports wall decor from Milton Bowens, who depicts nostalgic soul food brands. With 190 seats, plus an outdoor patio that holds another 60, it’s likely going to be a key dining destination for this part of South Park, which tends to draw people regionally and across the country due to its proximity to Microsoft Theater, the Convention Center, Staples Center, and the Grammy Museum.
Fixins will also partner with a reentry workforce program to “train and recruit underemployed populations,” as well as support Brotherhood Crusade, a nonprofit that provides resources and programs to underserved communities. Finally, Fixins will support the Ron Finley Project, which teaches communities to transform food deserts into food sanctuaries while helping people “regenerate their lands into creative business models.” Fixins estimates it’ll generate $4 million annually in economic impact while creating 140 new jobs.
Johnson’s restaurant takes over a Shaquille’s space that first debuted in February 2019, which went into the former Cleo slot at L.A. Live. Shaquille’s closed during the pandemic. Johnson’s political career in Sacramento wasn’t without its ups and downs, including allegations of sexual misconduct. Fixins is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and until 11 p.m. on weekends and game days.