UPDATE: Frank Holoman funeral @ Faithful Central Sat. June 2 11a.m.
A former Los Angeles assemblyman turned businessman, his Boulevard Café served as a regular meeting place for the Black community’s leadership
Long before making a name for himself here in Los Angeles, the late Frank Holoman had been sufficiently schooled in beating the odds. He grew up on a farm in rural Arkansas, where there was nothing to learn but the ways of the countryside. There was no one to look up to, he said.
“I had no [role models],” Holoman told Los Angeles Times reporter John L. Mitchell in a 1991 interview.
“No one in my family had ever graduated from college or owned a business. My father and mother never graduated from high school. It was an individualistic kind of thing.
“It was something that was inside of me. I can remember as a kid saying to myself that I wanted to be somebody. I wanted to do something. Even though I didn’t know quite what…”
While figuring it out, Holoman, a Washburn University graduate moved to Los Angeles in 1959.
Despite majoring in business, he sought out jobs in the public sector, where he was met with obstacles, mostly having to do with race. By the 1960s, Holoman began serving as administrative assistant to State Assemblymember Jesse Unruh. He was elected to the California Assembly in 1972 and served until 1974, losing his second term to Nate Holden. He was still determined to serve however, a perpetual advocate for urban improvement.
Born of that determination were his Black Achievers publication and more significantly, his first Boulevard Café, opened in 1985 in the now defunct Santa Barbara Plaza on King Boulevard. Politicians, celebrities and regular Joes frequented the restaurant, enjoying soul food as well as the latest community news. The café was Holoman’s vantage point so-to-speak.
From it, he got a lucid view of what was happening to Blacks in Los Angeles and other poverty-stricken areas across the United States.
“Undercapitalization is one of the main reasons why most businesses fail, and blacks have a harder time getting financing,” he told the Times, just months before the 1992 civil unrest in South L.A.
“Even if you have excellent credit, the banks don’t want to lend you money. You don’t have Uncle Joe or Uncle Pete to co-sign for you… Black businesses in this country are catching hell, and one of the keys is money… at the same time, immigrants are opening up businesses at an incredible rate, particularly in black communities.
“They get more financial support, resources…What it means is that basically, the money turns around once in our community and then it leaves. These merchants don’t shop in our community and they rarely hire outside family and friends.
For his part, Holoman refused to give up on the café despite its initial struggles, and made it one of the more successful businesses in the area.
“Restaurateur Frank Holoman gave the Crenshaw scene its real gathering places for many years,” wrote journalist, Erin Aubry Kaplan in 2002 after the restaurant closed.
Born January 10, 1934, Frank Holoman died last week on May 23. He left behind his wife Diane and three children Lisa Diane, Rochelle Marie, and Teresa Genene. He was 78 years old.