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Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson’s Locol is ‘bringing Watts to the rest of L.A.’ in new food truck

In a move that should surprise no one, chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson have taken their “fast food” restaurant Locol, which they opened in Watts in January, and put it on wheels. The Locol food truck opened for service this morning.

When asked why a food truck, Patterson, who was sitting on a curb near the truck, parked outside KPCC in Pasadena, smiled and said: “You’ve met my partner, right?”

Patterson’s partner, of course, is the man who more than anyone is responsible for the reinvention of the food truck in Los Angeles and beyond, with his fleet of Kogi BBQ trucks. The silver Locol truck is just the first, depending on how things go.

“It gets us to more places and feeds more people,” said Patterson, who with Choi has also opened a Locol in Oakland, and has another opening next month in San Francisco and one coming to the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles in the spring.

The mission of Locol is to bring affordable and healthful food to underserved neighborhoods, and by so doing, to ultimately transform what is considered fast food in this country. The truck serves the same menu as the restaurants, albeit abbreviated: “foldies,” or folded tacos, burgers and bowls, each filled with chili or tofu and vegetables.

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The aim, says Patterson — whose other project is Coi, his two Michelin star San Francisco restaurant — is mobility, both literally and figuratively. “It really activates the business. And creates more jobs.” The truck is staffed by the original crew from the Watts restaurant, and though the prices are higher than those at the brick-and-mortar in South L.A., they’re the same as the restaurant in Oakland — $5 “burgs,” $7 bowls, $3 “foldies” — and therefore less expensive than the items on many L.A. food trucks.

As Choi took orders from the take-out window and brought paper plates and bags to those in line on the South Raymond Avenue sidewalk, he coached the folks inside the truck, passing encouragement through the window as the cooks passed out cheeseburgers.

With the truck, said Patterson, they can bring their food and their project to more neighborhoods without the overhead of a restaurant, as well as do events, parties and catering. The truck schedule now includes Pasadena, Culver City, Santa Monica, West Hollywood — and back to Watts.

“We’re bringing Watts to the rest of L.A.,” said Patterson. “Showing up and cooking is the easy part.”

Locol truck, open for lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, closed Sundays and Mondays. www.welocol.com

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