Chef Roy Choi is known for turning everything he touches into gold. He changed the food truck game with his Korean BBQ taco trucks, his Chego restaurants are wildly popular in Los Angeles, and in 2016 he tried to revolutionize the fast food industry by providing more wholesome options to economically challenged areas that are ‘food deserts’ in California.
While people have been singing praises to his and Daniel Patterson’s ‘Locol’ restaurants in Watts, and Oakland, the New York Times recently published a pretty scathing review of the restaurant.
The Times’ Peter Wells went in hard, saying that the food was so bad, it deserved a zero star rating from him.
“The neighborhoods Locol is targeting have serious nutritional problems, from hunger to obesity, but the solution isn’t to charge people for stuff that tastes like hospital food,” Wells said in his review.
On the other hand, zero stars might be a little rough, considering there are a lot of favorable reviews of Locol on Yelp. A closer look at these reviews, however, shows that most of the positive vibes come from praise for Choi and his concept and intentions, and not so much the food.
So while a less than favorable review might have been in order, zero stars is a bit shocking, so much so that Choi himself responded in an Instagram post:
“I know many of you want me to respond or snap back at him but the situation to me is much more than that. I welcome Pete’s review. It tells me a lot more about the path. I don’t know Pete but he is now inextricably linked to LocoL forever.”
Zero stars. I know many of you want me to respond or snap back at him but the situation to me is much more than that. I welcome Pete’s review. It tells me a lot more about the path. I don’t know Pete but he is now inextricably linked to LocoL forever. So I’ll share with you what I wrote to a friend and our team. We got that PMA: “The truth is that LocoL has hit a nerve. Doesn’t mean all people love it, some hate it. But no one is indifferent by it. That’s the spirit of LocoL. It has nothing to do with my ego. It’s something bigger than all of us. Pete Wells is a component to its DNA. His criticisms are a reflection of us and the nerve that LocoL touches. And our imperfections. Also the nerve of challenging the binary structure of privileged thought patterns and how life is not just about what’s a success or failure, but some things are real struggles and growth journeys. We all know the food is not as bad as he states. Is it perfect? NO. But it’s not as bad as he writes. And all minorities aren’t criminals either. And all hoods aren’t filled with dangerous people either. But the pen has created a lot of destruction over the course of history and continues to.. He didn’t need to go there but he did. That’s why he’s a part of LocoL. The power of this change and this nerve that it hits. It compelled him to write something he knows would hurt a community that is already born from a lot of pain and struggle.. Crazy, right? But I see it as a piece to this whole puzzle.” #LocoL #Watts #Oakland
Wells did provide some positive feedback, saying the coffee was “excellent,” and the atmosphere was also a success. Doesn’t that warrant at least one star?
The review got Choi’s attention, the internet’s attention, and put Locol at the forefront of headlines.
If this headline helps the progress of Locol going forward, we might look back at it as something positive for the chain.