By Gina Valencia
Photos by Alexiz Gomez
If you’re hankering for a hearty breakfast -- or lunch, or dinner, or all the above and all at once -- head over to Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles on East Broadway.
“When in Long Beach, definitely come to Roscoe’s,” said patron Christina Romero. “The waffles are perfect amounts of fluffiness and crunch; the mac-n-cheese, probably some of the best I’ve had, and the lemonades.... I mean, everything is just... bomb."
On vacation from San Jose with her family, Christina was more than happy to gush about the ‘beloved soul food chain.’ Established in Hollywood in 1975, the restaurant is not only an ‘L.A. institution,’ but has become a part of Southern California pop culture. Featured in movies and music, everyone from the curiously hungry to celebrities and even presidents (try the Obama’s Special), has made Roscoe’s a definite stop.
WHERE ‘A FORKFUL OF WAFFLES HELPS THE FRIED CHICKEN GO DOWN’
The Long Beach location is the fifth of seven Roscoe’s restaurants in Southern California. When arriving via the front entryway, patrons step into a lobby with an awaiting hostess perched behind a desk. The door on the right of the desk leads to Roscoe’s Jazz Lounge; the left door leads to the large dining area, decorated with chicken imprint window valances, framed artwork; and photographs of Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald chatting with Marilyn Monroe; and a beautiful Long Beach/L.A. County mural with yellow ‘street signs’ along a road denoting each year of Roscoe’s openings. As soon as you walk in, the scent of salty fried chicken, sweet syrup, cinnamon, and thick gravy makes your stomach growl.
General Manager Cuauhtemoc ‘Temo’ Rodriquez worked his way up from an 18-year-old dishwasher at a Roscoe’s near his Boyle Heights family home to become one of founder Herb Hudson’s go-to-guys. He oversees the initial openings of any new location, including the Long Beach location back in 2001. When asked how the unusual pairing of fried chicken and waffles came to be, the sweet hostess piped in with an explanation.
“IF MUSIC IS THE FOOD OF LOVE, PLAY ON”
The late-night music culture is embedded in the history of Roscoe’s and it still plays a huge part in the success of the chain, as evident with the jazz lounge. When Roscoe’s founder Herb began promoting his restaurant in the 1970s, he invited his connections within the Motown and jazz worlds to continue that old Harlem tradition of unwinding with fellow musicians over a delicious meal. Soon, word spread and the rest is history. But where does the name Roscoe’s come from... it remains a mystery.
OFTEN IMITATED, NEVER DUPLICATED
Ever tried pairing your leftover KFC with an Eggo waffle? Don’t bother. There is just something deliciously unique about the flavors, spices, and food combinations offered at Roscoe’s that can’t exactly be reproduced. Add a side of candy yams and a cold glass of one of their lemonade concoctions, and you’re golden.