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Inside Roy Choi's LocoL, a new fast food restaurant in Watts




Roy Choi (L) and host Alex Cohen with some of the new foods on the menu at LocoL, Choi's new fast food restaurant opening in the Watts neighborhood on January 18, 2016.
Roy Choi (L) and host Alex Cohen with some of the new foods on the menu at LocoL, Choi's new fast food restaurant opening in the Watts neighborhood on January 18, 2016.
Leo Duran/KPCC

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Chef Roy Choi has taken the food world by storm by creating some of Los Angeles' best places to eat, from his Kogi trucks to Pot at the Line Hotel.

But his next stop is catering to a community that rarely gets food buzz, much less new businesses who are willing to set-up shop and offer healthy food: Watts.

Choi's new restaurant is LocoL, a fast food joint opening Monday, January 18th in the South L.A. neighborhood.

"It's a community that hasn't had many restaurants build here and many new businesses come in decades," he tells Take Two. "So on top of the normal restaurant stuff, there's also that emotional burden of, like, I don't wanna f*** it up."

Line workers in the kitchen of LocoL are preparing for opening day. LocoL is a new fast food restaurant created by chef Roy Choi in the Watts neighborhood of LA.
Line workers in the kitchen of LocoL are preparing for opening day. LocoL is a new fast food restaurant created by chef Roy Choi in the Watts neighborhood of LA.
Leo Duran/KPCC

The idea is to bring fresh, healthy and local food to Watts where residents have had little access to that in the past.

It's part of a mission that he espoused at a talk in Copenhagen, saying, "What if every high caliber chef, all of us in here, told our investors as we're building restaurants that for every fancy restaurant we build, it would be a requirement to build a restaurant in the hood as well?"

On top of that, he wants to create LocoL as a place where the food is cheap and affordable.

"It's hard to cook something really, really delicious with a lot of labor, fresh ingredients and vegetables from farmers markets, making sound decisions and ethical decisions on things, and serving it for $2," he says.

KPCC host Alex Cohen eats a turkey burger from LocoL, a new fast food restaurant in Watts by chef Roy Choi. All items are designed to be affordable and healthy for a neighborhood that's had little access to such fare.
KPCC host Alex Cohen eats a turkey burger from LocoL, a new fast food restaurant in Watts by chef Roy Choi. All items are designed to be affordable and healthy for a neighborhood that's had little access to such fare.
Leo Duran/KPCC

On the menu will be $2 stuffed tacos called "foldies," $6 messy chili bowls with three different beans and crushed crackers, and $4 turkey "burgers" made with shredded barbecue turkey on a crispy fermented rice bun.

"When you look at the food, it doesn't look that complicated and we don't want it to look complicated," says Choi. "I truly believe Locol will be a success when no one knows the story behind it too much."

In fact, the only complicated thing about LocoL is the backstory of its mascots, involving a post-apocalyptic world, seeds of the future, a sprinkle of "The Minority Report" and more. Hear more with the bonus audio.

Chef Roy Choi's new restaurant LocoL has logos and characters with an elaborately fleshed out story line.
Chef Roy Choi's new restaurant LocoL has logos and characters with an elaborately fleshed out story line.
Locol

LocoL opens Monday, January 18th. It's located at 1950 E 103rd Av, Los Angeles.