To celebrate Black History Month, the Los Angeles Chargers have highlighted the Black history and culture of four unique Los Angeles neighborhoods through the lens of restaurants, showcasing how food can bring people and communities together.
To close out the series, it's Darrow's New Orleans Grill.
Darrow's New Orleans Grill
"We're here to affect people's lives."
That's Norwood J. Clark Jr.'s vision as the CEO/President, Uncle Darrow's Inc.
Clark Jr. is a Louisiana native and cooking is in his DNA. After all, his family cooked for Commander's Palace, a famous New Orleans restaurant that has trained some of the most renowned chefs.
"Those aficionados who love good Cajun, creole cuisine would know about The Commander's Palace," Clark Jr. said. "They trained Paul Prudhomme, they trained Emeril Lagasse. I used to work for the Hilton family in New Orleans as well."
Clark Jr. originally started his foray into food with Uncle Darrow's Cajun Pecan Candy which opened in February 1988. In 1994, Uncle Darrow's Cajun/Creole Eatery opened on Venice Blvd. with a second location in 1999. But in 2016, Clark Jr. opened Darrow's New Orleans Grill, a fast-casual restaurant serving Cajun and Creole delicacies like catfish, gumbo, po'boys, jambalaya and more.
"If you're a first-time buyer with us, we're gonna give you a sample," he said. "We're not gonna allow you to purchase food from here without sampling it first. That's unethical to us. If you don't walk out of here better than you walked in here, we didn't do our job. Because how you grow a first-generation business is by having the general public embrace you … You have to cultivate these relationships and have people buy into your vision and have people buy into your dream."
As he stated, Clark Jr. prides the success of Darrow's on the relationships he and his team have built with the community noting the "southern hospitality" they treat their customers with to make sure they get the best experience possible.
"The mantra that we've had since the very beginning is, 'We don't do customers, we do family.' People don't realize that blood only makes you related, it don't make you family. What makes you family is loyalty and commitment. The loyalty that we've had with the community shows that same loyalty to us. We would not have (sustained business) since Feb. 1, 1988 if (there) wasn't a commitment by the community to keep us going."
Though they've always been involved with giving back, like attending career days and helping with a high school mentorship program, when COVID-19 hit, Clark Jr. and his team made sure to help those who have supported them for so many years.
They started by feeding the Carson Fire Dept., then the sheriff's department, and that all translated to feeding more local law enforcement and even local hospitals as well.
But they "jumped" on an opportunity to feed those hit hardest, seniors with underlying conditions.
"We feed over 60 people a day, three hot meals a day. These are the type of meals I would feed to my own mother and father. I would be proud."
Those healthy meals also include vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free options. No matter the dietary restriction, no one is left unserved.
For Clark Jr., he's gotten just as much out of helping back as those he and Darrow's are assisting.
"It feeds the soul," Clark Jr. reflected. "Not only has it been a lifeline for the seniors, but it's been a lifeline for us. If you look at the world today, the world won't ever be the same again post-COVID. If we don't come out as better human beings on the other side of COVID, we're missing an opportunity. A world of opportunity to allow the goodness inside of all of us to come out and make an impact."