1. I like Roy Choi.
2. I've made some of his food from his cookbook.
3. I like but do not love his Kogi tacos. Would not stand in a line for an hour for them. Love some of the concepts of his other restaurants. Would try them all if practical.
4. I admire his goals.
5. I've never eaten at either Locol location.
Pete Wells apparently wrote a pretty inflammatory no-star NYTimes review of the Locol location in Oakland. Jonathan Gold called him, maybe not wrong, but "ungenerous". Roy Choi wrote something, honestly, that is kind of incomprehensible to me.
That being said, this location is on Broadway, downtown? Ain't nothing going to survive in Oakland if it don't deliver on flavor. This location is not in a food desert - on Google Maps it looks like Pandora's headquarters are right around the corner. And it doesn't matter how good your intentions are, if you can't compete with the taquerias or the Vietnamese delis with $2.00 sandwiches (it might be $3 now; it's been a while) a few miles away, what are you even doing?
Funny, I remember going home over my break in November, and taking a walk around my neighborhood, being alternately nostalgic and horrified/fascinated by the changes that gentrification brought to it. We walked into a store whose aesthetic screamed Silver Lake hipster, and I point-blank asked my sister who in our neighborhood could actually afford anything there. She shrugged. We passed by an artisanal popcorn shop, a "new American" themed restaurant with a pricey looking menu and communal benches, and another breakfast place. She claimed that people drove over an hour just to come to that restaurant. I wondered if they do, do they just come in, eat, and go, or do they stick around to explore?
Ironically, that day was Sunday and apparently all the restaurants were closed. We ended up eating at the KFC I'd grown up eating at, that our friends had gotten their first legal jobs at. Saw the bulletproof glass and I was like, yup, here we are.