San Diego getting its first Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, iconic soul food chain from Los Angeles
Barrio Logan location is expected to open late October after six years of delays.
One of the most beloved restaurant chains in Los Angeles will open its first San Diego location this fall in Barrio Logan, bringing along soul food favorites like collard greens and an unusual signature dish of fried chicken with waffles.
Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles is finally following through on a 6-year-old plan to expand out of Los Angeles and Orange Counties for the first time, with a shiny new San Diego location that will be walking distance to Petco Park and Chicano Park.
The ninth location of the popular chain will also be its largest, with two stories of both indoor and outdoor seating and a large L-shaped parking lot featuring entrances from both National Avenue and Sigsbee Street.
“The location is pretty phenomenal,” said Roscoe’s creative director Diane Vara, predicting a late October opening date based on recent construction progress.
Roscoe’s owner and founder Herb Hudson, who insists on owning the land beneath each of his restaurants, bought the Barrio Logan site in 2016 after a comprehensive search of several San Diego neighborhoods, Vara said.
But groundbreaking was delayed for roughly two years by what Vara describes as conflicts with city planning officials over features Hudson wanted the 4,000-square-foot restaurant to include.
“There were certain things we couldn’t get clearance for,” she said.
Amid those disputes came the COVID-19 pandemic, delaying any progress another two years. But things got back on track in early 2022 and now Roscoe’s has secured all its permits and construction is well underway, Vara said.
While the six-year delay has been frustrating, Vara said a silver lining has been the evolution of Barrio Logan from an area struggling with homelessness to a hipster mecca known for trendy restaurants and eclectic nightlife.
That shift and the imminent arrival of Roscoe’s has some community leaders worried about gentrification, particularly rising rents that could force longtime residents out of Barrio Logan.
“There is a fine line between what is gentrification and what isn’t,” said Julie Corrales, chair of the Barrio Logan Community Planning Group.
She said key factors include whether locals eat or shop there, whether the business hires nearby residents and whether it helps financially support local initiatives like community gardens.
Corrales said it’s certainly exciting for San Diego and her neighborhood to get such an iconic chain like Roscoe’s.
“In all honesty, I’ll probably try it,” she said. “I’ll just be nervous about its impact on the neighborhood.”
Many other San Diegans are also expected to try Roscoe’s, which has become well-known thanks to being featured in many TV shows and films like Swingers, Rush Hour and Jackie Brown.
Founded in 1975 in Long Beach, the chain’s most famous and important location is arguably in Hollywood just off Sunset Boulevard and near the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Hudson, a native of New York City’s Harlem neighborhood, essentially stole the idea for his signature dish from the Wells Famous Home of Chicken and Waffles, which operated in Harlem from 1938 to 1982.
Legend has it that operators of the Wells restaurant came up with the idea because they had so many late-night customers who couldn’t decide if they wanted a late dinner or an early breakfast. So the restaurant started serving a combination of both, fried chicken with waffles.
While the Barrio Logan will be Roscoe’s first outside greater Los Angeles, Vara said many more are planned. She said Roscoe’s is exploring sites in Palm Springs, Las Vegas and northern California.
She also said additional sites are being explored in San Diego, including what could become the chain’s first drive-through location. Roscoe’s other locations include Anaheim, Pasadena, Inglewood and three in the city of Los Angeles.
Vara said the Barrio Logan location is slated to have more than 300 seats and employ between 100 and 120 workers.
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