Each week during February, the Los Angeles Chargers will highlight the Black history and culture of four unique Los Angeles neighborhoods through the lens of the restaurants, highlighting how food can bring people and communities together.
This week, it's Earle's on Crenshaw.
Earle's on Crenshaw
"They just know us for hustling; these guys are always hustling."
That's the mentality Duane Earle and his brother, Cary, use to attack each day they run Earle's on Crenshaw.
The Earle brothers have taken what was once a small hot dog cart, that Cary built with his engineering expertise, and turned it into a full-fledged restaurant and catering operation, making them a fixture in the community for nearly four decades.
"No matter what you do, as long as you do it to the best of your ability (and) you do it right, you're confident about it, you cross your Ts and dot your Is; as long as you can handle business like that, eventually it will pay off," Duane said. "People will notice."
That "hustling mentality" was built from their days growing up in Brooklyn. Once they ventured out west and people caught on, the hot dog cart expanded and now features a menu with their famous and unique grilled dogs sliced down the middle, burgers and sandwiches, fries, desserts, their famous Playas Punch, and even vegetarian and vegan options.
"We would split and grill hot dogs," Duane mentioned. "Everybody else in L.A. boiled hot dogs. So my hot dog cart at the time, used to be like a McDonalds, it was extremely busy … There was something always going on. People were always coming to my cart. I'm feeding a whole community, I'm feeding businesses, hundreds of businesses in the area.
"I'm the only one grilling hot dogs, nobody was doing this. The amount of different types of hot dogs, (too) … just really unorthodox and unusual. And then on top of that, a young Black guy doing it. That was really unusual, you didn't see that in L.A."
Their "slice and chop and split them down the middle" hot dogs became a trademark of Earle's after changing their cooking format to best help elderly customers enjoy their products.
The Earle brothers have always had a penchant for giving back to their community. And it was never for praise, it was always done out of the goodness of their hearts.
They fed their community during the riots in 1992. And when COVID-19 hit last year, they selflessly made an impact.
They started delivering 100-150 healthy meals on average a week to senior citizens. They also started "Meatless Mondays," where they invite a number of vegan or vegetarian restaurants to set up in front of Earle's on Crenshaw and sell their own items.
"These are the things that make communities strong," mentioned Duane. "You have those that become successful in the community and come back and reinvest in the community.
"We're the 'Cheers' of the community … Everybody knows our name."
For over 30 years, brothers Cary and Duane Earle have served up New York inspired classics, Los Angeles culinary trends, and robust vegan offerings to the community at Earle's On Crenshaw.