For over four decades, Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles has been bringing a touch of Southern style soul food to the Los Angeles area and beyond. Long a favorite of celebrities (Natalie Cole and Redd Foxx both helped drive new customers there back in the day) it's now been referred to by the Los Angeles Times as "such an L.A. institution that people don't even question the strange combo anymore."
That combination of sweet and savory may sound strange to some, but chicken and waffles is actually a classic comfort food dish that has a lot of fans. The restaurant was founded by Herb Hudson, a Harlem native, in 1975. As Diane Vara, who heads marketing for the chain describes it, "The owner wanted a place where anyone could come, from all walks of life and leave their differences at the door. Where you can come together with no judgments and just enjoy some southern comfort food!"
After it opened, Hudson's celebrity friends from Motown and television helped spread the word about the food (Foxx would tell his stand-up audiences he ate there.) Today, the restaurant has been visited by Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, President Barack Obama, Snoop Dogg, Larry King, and countless others. In fact, part of the fun of going to Roscoe's, according to Vara, is that you'll never know who you'll run into there.
While the core meals on the menu are made up, of course, of various chicken and waffle combinations, you can also get chicken chili, sandwiches, and salads. All of the usual Southern trimmings are served as well, such as mac and cheese, corn bread, biscuits, collard greens, red beans and rice, grits, and even sweet potato pie. Everything is made to order using fresh ingredients and all meals are served all day. It's hard to imagine someone leaving Roscoe's still hungry.
While a few other restaurants tried to claim the name Rosscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles in Chicago (spelled with a double "s"), the Hollywood-based Roscoe's successfully sued for trademark infringement, keeping its title as the original Roscoe's in the U.S.
And if you can't make it to the Roscoe's location in person, the company also sells several of its notable entrees and side dishes in Southern California grocery stores. Called Roscoe's at Home, this newest venture started rolling out products in late 2015.
No matter what one orders on the menu, a fun time is practically guaranteed at a Roscoe's restaurant. "I'd say the food in itself takes the spotlight while the guest become the audience," says Vara. "It's family style, or casual dining. There is soft music in the background, just the right amount of lighting you'd expect. The delicious comfort food is enough to keep you coming back; however, I think the experience overall is what is so appealing. It's always a new experience at Roscoe's."