In November 2023, Greg Dulan walked through the nearly completed renovation of Dulan’s on Crenshaw. Though the restaurant first opened in 1992, Dulan spent the last two years funding, designing, and reconstructing his flagship soul food restaurant in South LA, which also serves as a cornerstone community hub. During the redesign, Dulan obsessed over the details. He custom-ordered the main dining room’s neon “Dulan’s” sign, positioned the huge, newly framed photo of his grandparents on the wall, and made multiple phone calls to ensure the imported chairs from Spain were just right.
“The chairs are comfortable, aren’t they?” he says. “I told the manufacturer, don’t send me any skinny people chairs like I had before. People of all sizes need to be comfortable.”
Los Angeles knows Dulan’s on Crenshaw. As owner of one of LA’s oldest soul food spots, Dulan was nominated by the James Beard Foundation for Outstanding Restaurateur in 2023. Well before it temporarily closed in August 2021, tour buses filled with visitors from Japan, China, and other U.S. states used to pull up in front of the Crenshaw Boulevard restaurant for a meal before heading to their next destination. The Hyde Park/Baldwin Hills-adjacent neighborhood is also in the midst of change with ongoing gentrification, the soon-to-open Destination Crenshaw, and two walkable K Line Metro stations nearby.
The restaurant’s revamp began in 2018. Dulan tells Eater LA he was offered a million-dollar facade improvement grant by Los Angeles city councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson’s office. “It didn’t make sense to me to dress up the front and not redo the inside,” says Dulan. “Having a beautiful frontage and no infrastructure to handle more volume made me realize that I needed to upgrade the whole space.”
As a longstanding restaurant owner in rapidly changing Hyde Park, Dulan has witnessed gentrification and new investment in the area. “With the construction of the K-Line and other developments, I knew what was coming: new restaurants. I knew that I needed to upgrade to keep up with the Joneses and be fresh,” he says.
Dulan’s on Crenshaw now has a new foundation, walls, exterior, HVAC, plumbing, exhaust, and more. Dulan’s on Crenshaw is a restaurant reopening for an area that is starkly missing diverse dining options for the community it serves. The closest sit-down restaurant is a mile away at Post & Beam, which will soon close when Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza begins construction.
Gone is the signature counter serving area where customers watched their to-go containers get piled high with oxtails, mac and cheese, fried fish, candied yams, fried chicken, baked chicken, and cornbread muffins. The hot prepared foods area is stationed to the rear of the cashier and then brought out to customers to eat in the sizable dining room, or on one of the two outdoor patios. There are 50 seats on the front patio, 50 in the main dining room, and 80 on the rear patio. Still under construction, the rear patio will be used for additional seating or for special events. Dulan’s also has an ABC license, so mimosas are coming shortly, along with a gospel brunch. Desserts still include sweet potato pies, cobblers, and rotating cake flavors.
A separate takeout area is located on the Westmount Avenue side, intended to serve those on the go and third-party delivery drivers. Dulan designed what he describes as his “dream restaurant” — including a separate to-go kitchen.
Awards from the City of Los Angeles line one wall, while photos showing the Dulan family history will continue to go up over the coming weeks. This family has five decades in the LA restaurant community with Greg’s father Adolf Dulan operating the shuttered Hamburger City. Greg’s stepmother Mary Dulan operated Aunt Kizzy’s Back Porch in Marina del Rey for 37 years. Aunt Kizzy’s closed after Mary retired in 2016.
When asked what his father, who died in 2017, would say about the renovation, Dulan immediately laughs. “‘Boy, you spent too much money,’” he says.
The locations on Manchester and Century are operated by Greg’s brother Terry Dulan, who supported all operations going during this transition. Dulan hired people from the surrounding neighborhood who were tired of commuting to external areas like Culver City or Marina del Rey. Many tell him they appreciate being able to walk to work. Dulan also owns three adjacent buildings, one of which will be a self-parking lot with space for valet service.
“To have a business in the neighborhood where I grew up is a blessing,” says Dulan. “A lot of people, including myself at times, didn’t think I would ever reopen. But by God’s grace, I will. This restaurant will be here long after I’m gone.”
Though open, Dulan’s on Crenshaw’s official opening date is Friday, January 12. Dulan’s on Crenshaw hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday until 9 p.m. To-go window will eventually be open one hour after the restaurant closes.