South Los Angeles is known for its plethora of outstanding family owned restaurants and eateries. Small businesses are critically important to the culture of South LA. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us into our homes and is threatening to force many of the businesses we love to close. Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson launched the emergency senior meal program to address the immediate needs of vulnerable seniors and help 23 local small businesses remain operational and continue serving the South LA community.
“I feel a personal connection and responsibility to every resident in my district and in the South LA community, ” said Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. As soon as this crisis hit, I took immediate action to protect our seniors as well as small businesses and their employees. We can make it through this crisis together and come out stronger in the end.”
Currently, South Los Angeles is in a cultural and entrepreneurial renaissance. After decades of disinvestment, residents with deep ties to our neighborhoods are opening community coffee shops like South LA Cafe and dine in restaurants like Swift Cafe. Many of these institutions have become cultural hubs within the community. Like many small businesses, these family restaurants run on very thin margins and the sudden drop in customers threatens their survival. Many restaurants across the City and the country have already closed their doors.
Even before the threat of COVID-19, local entrepreneurs feared rising rent costs would price them out of their own neighborhoods. For many, COVID-19 felt like a deathblow. Because of the emergency senior meal program, vulnerable seniors have access to free healthy meals and classics like Jordans Hot Dogs and new favorites like Hilltop Coffee can remain open and continue serving our community.
After the Watts riots in 1965, Oranee Jordan saw a need for quality food and long-lasting businesses in South LA. With that in mind and as a community leader, Oranee founded Jordan’s Hot Dogs and watched it survive the Watts Riots. Wilson Salguero opened Caveman Kitchen in 2007 and made it through the Great Recession. The restaurant combines peruvian and cuban cuisines, to bring foods he grew up eating to South L.A.
“Before Councilmember Harris-Dawson introduced the emergency senior meals program, I was sure my business would close, sad Caveman Kitchen Owner George Salguero. “Now, we are able to keep our staff employed and give back to our neighbors in need.”
“It all started with my grandmother Oranee Jordan who moved here from Alabama, said Cary Jordan of Jordan’s Hotdogs. Our family has been a part of this community since 1935. Huge thank you to the councilmember and his team for helping us make it through this crisis. We plan on sticking around no matter what.”
This crisis presents real challenges. It also creates real opportunities for South LA residents to unite and bounce back stronger than ever. We cannot let the coronavirus threaten the investments we’ve made to restore our South Los Angeles community.