SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Providing healthy and affordable high-quality meals has often been a challenge for underserved neighborhoods across the country. Never is that more evident than in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood.
Los Angeles-based chef Roy Choi, who garnered fame as the co-founder of the Kogi food trucks, has his own vision on how to change that. His idea is called Loco’l, a fast food concept that focuses on chef-driven food using fresh ingredients, all while still being affordable. One of the first two locations is planned for the Tenderloin, at Turk and Taylor streets.
How did Choi end up choosing that location for his “movement?” He explained to KCBS it was mainly due to the relationship and partnership he has formed with award-winning San Francisco chef Daniel Patterson, after presenting the idea at the MAD Symposium in Copenhagen in 2013.
“Daniel was there, he hit me up and flew down to LA and we just connected. Sometimes when chefs connect, they get right to work,” Choi said. “He was on the same mission as well, on a parallel path and we connected both our visions together and created Loco’l.”
“Every community that we pick, we try to pick a community that welcomes us and that we have a connection to. For me, it was Watts here in L.A.,” Choi said. “Daniel does the Cooking Project at Larkin Street in the Tenderloin. So it was through that connection that going with the Tenderloin felt right.”
Choi said the project still has a lot of moving parts. That includes an Indiegogo campaign, which on Tuesday night, reached it’s stated goal of raising $100,000. The fundraising campaign closes at midnight on March 19, and Choi said they are still looking to get last-minute contributions. “Every dollar matters. Any dollar that we can raise and any awareness we can raise puts more power in the mission and the movement.”
“We might have to find out things as we feed people, as we run the store in the community. We might have to switch things up on the fly,” Choi said. “But everything we do is going to be for that immediate community.”
Choi said it’s still unclear which site will play host to the first Loco’l location, but spots in Watts and the Tenderloin are hopefully expected by this summer. There is also hope to open a location in East Oakland as well.
‘This is a movement. I see it, I feel it, the proof is there. We’d like it to go global,” he said. “And maybe it’s not just us. Maybe it’s like a collective. Like a hip-hop collective, where it goes global and others take it. And then they morph it and grow it. I don’t know what it’s going to be, but I do know that as long as Daniel and I are involved, we’re going to protect and nourish the vision of it and the soul and the culture of it.”
Choi and Patterson are currently in the test kitchen, working on a menu for Loco’l. Choi has posted Instagram pictures of a burger and chicken puff with dipping sauce, just some of what customers might expect.
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#LocoL grain mixed patty, koji bun, awesome sauce, charred scallion lime relish, jack cheese, boom. Eats as a burger should but feels like a bowl of rice afterwards. Light as a feather, full of flavor and texture and soul. We got so much more to reveal to you but this is good for now. 8 more days left in our indiegogo campaign. Help us get there, spread the word, link your friends, we will honor every penny and support. Link is in my Bio. @welocol
He said he sees the Loco’l movement as a way to challenge chefs and challenge the fast food industry, to go into these underserved neighborhoods they are targeting and provide another avenue or option of reasonably-priced, healthy, quality food.
Below is video of Choi and Patterson announcing Loco’l to the food world at the MAD Symposium in 2013.
You can click here to contribute to the Indiegogo campaign.