Larry White, Jr. Lo-Lo's Fried Chicken & Waffles 10 W. Yuma Street, Phoenix 602-340-1304 and 2765 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale 480-945-1920 www.loloschickenandwaffles.com
This is part one of my interview with Larry White, Jr. (Lo-Lo), the owner of Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles. You can read part two of the interview here.
Was it nature or nurture for Larry White Jr. -- the Lo-Lo behind Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles and the grandson of Mrs. White of Mrs. White's Golden Rule Café?
"Before I can walk and talk, I'm holding collard greens in one hand and fried chicken in the other," White says. But making fried chicken didn't sound glamorous to a young man who couldn't pinpoint precisely what he wanted -- only that he intended to be his own boss.
In the early 90s, he and a couple of friends started an independent record label called Fo-Life Records, producing local recordings and hooking up with CA-based artists such as Snoop Dogg and The Dogg Pound.
On his frequent trips to LA, White always stopped at Roscoe's (famous for its chicken and waffles), until one day he said to himself, "I can do this, and my fried chicken is better." In 1997, he got his grandmother's blessing to make fried chicken and waffles for the late-night crowd out of her cafe, which closed early. On Friday and Saturday nights, he was slammed until 4 am.
In 2000, White leased a tiny house on Yuma Street, got it re-zoned for commercial use, then scrimped and saved to buy the equipment and furniture he needed to make it a restaurant.
When he opened Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles in 2002, the late-night crowd followed him to the new location, but his daytime business was absolutely dead. So he started delivering fried chicken to hotel bellhops, airport skycaps and taxi drivers. After a glowing New Times review in 2003, Lo-Lo's was officially discovered. Within a few years, White had lines out the door, prompting a second South Scottsdale location in 2009. Now the fried chicken king is building a bigger and better Lo-Lo's in the 9000-square-foot warehouse that sits beside the little house where it all began.
Six words to describe you: dedicated, humble, super-neat, loving, compassionate perfectionist. I'm a fool at heart. You gonna be around me, you need to sign this waiver.
Six words to describe your restaurant: consistent, relentless, dedicated, eager-to-please, longevity, friendly
Two words that will never apply to your restaurant: leftovers, snooty
What's always in your kitchen: hot grease
What's never in your kitchen: a microwave
Best food memory: being a little kid and eating my mother's fried chicken, cooked in a cast iron skillet and served with Kraft mac and cheese. That was my favorite dish growing up, the one I always asked my mom for.
One food you can't live without: fried chicken. My wife made baked chicken at home on Monday. On Tuesday, she asked me what I wanted for dinner and I said "chicken." She said, "We just had that." It doesn't have to be fried. It could be baked, rotisseried or grilled. I just love chicken. Every once in a while, I go through the KFC line with dark glasses and a hat on. I love that original recipe.
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SHOW ME HOW
When and how did you develop an interest in food: I've had an Interest in food since Day One because I always loved to eat. I watched my grandmother and my father slaving over hot stoves and working so hard. I didn't want that life for me. I didn't want to come home and smell like chicken grease every day. After trying A through Q and nothing else was working, this was what came naturally: food and cooking. My family was teaching me a trade and I didn't even know it.
How did you come up with Lo-Lo's recipes: The chicken recipe has been in the family for generations. My grandmother got it from her mother. And we're still doing it the same way. When I first started doing chicken and waffles at my grandmother's, I used regular old pancake batter. My aunt tasted them and said, "These are good, but they taste like anybody's waffles. Your chicken tastes like no one else's. Your waffles should be the same." So I came up with the idea of adding vanilla and cinnamon.
Enjoy this Chef Salad? Check out Nikki's previous interviews with: Lori Hashimoto of Hana Japanese Eatery