Los Angeles has always been known as a melting pot, attracting people from across the world to its sunny shores. For the most part, different ethnic groups have tended to concentrate in specific areas. Asians have flocked to eastern areas like Arcadia and Monterey Park, Mexicans have put down roots in East LA, and African American families have clustered around Manchester Square and Crenshaw. What’s so special about the community as a whole, though, is how each of these groups can come together to create something special and unique.
You can see a perfect intermingling of people when you visit the Louisiana Famous Fried Chicken restaurant at 91st and Central Avenue in South Los Angeles. Serving up beans, sweet potatoes, and crispy fried foods to a mostly black clientele is a family that immigrated from Cambodia.
The owner of this particular establishment is Michael Eng. In 1992, he became a Cambodian refugee as his country was embroiled in a civil war. He, and about 50,000 other Cambodians, eventually made their way to Los Angeles. With an entrepreneurial spirit, he bought this restaurant right after the Rodney King riots took the city by storm.
A lifetime of hardworking paid off for Eng. He’s now the owner of the entire chain of Louisiana Famous Fried Chicken restaurants. There are almost 150 restaurants in the network, and 80% of them are owned by Cambodians.
Most of the owners are also refugees or have family members who were refugees, so they can empathize when they meet customers who may be struggling through tough times. A unique bond can form between the employees, the owners, and the patrons, and it’s clear that Eng’s original restaurant has become a staple in the LA community.