connect / 2015

AbundantFeast: a Restaurant Incubator and Inclusive Localism Lab inspired by Jonathan Gold

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Urban & Environmental Institute, Occidental College and East Yards Communities for Environmental Justice

AbundantFeast is a for-benefit incubator of restaurants confronting the issues of gentrification. Its board of directors comprise the conflicted stakeholders in urban development. The incubator is a modified startup launch process to power-up new restaurants vetted by a criteria set by the board. It will be self-sustaining after startup costs. It will create new value to share among the stakeholders. It will evolve urban development toward equitable resolution of conflict and inclusion.


In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • East LA
  • Highland Park

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Conduct research
  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Implement a pilot or new project
  • Mobilize for systems change

How will your proposal improve the following “Connect” metrics?

  • Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support
  • Median travel time to work
  • Percentage of Angelenos that volunteer informally (Dream Metric)
  • Transit-accessible housing and employment (the share of housing units and percentage of jobs that are located near transit)
  • Residential segregation (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to connect.

(Embedded video clip is from “City of Gold” by Laura Gabbert and not associated with this project)

“Food is political here in a way that rock and roll hasn’t been for years,” Gold recently wrote in Saveur Magazine. “It plugs into the rhythms of the city and the world, engaging all the important questions of social justice and health, diversity and inclusion.” - Jonathan Gold

AbundantFeast is a for-benefit incubator of restaurants that plug into the rhythms of Los Angeles. It will connect diverse stakeholders in the wave of development in Los Angeles. It will connect existing residents in Highland Park with aspiring chefs who want to open a restaurant there. It will connect college students with real world experience of entrepreneurship intersecting with a social mission. It will connect questions of social justice, health, diversity and inclusion to the wave of development in the City.

Underneath the issues of gentrification is a disconnect among the groups it impacts. The systemic history is so vast, that the groups experience it as circumstance. AbundantFeast intervenes in that chasm. It brings representatives from the conflicted stakeholders together. It gives them a chance to discard the conventions that pair development with disconnection. It empowers them to make connections with each other and create new value on terms that include all of them.

From the work of the board, two ways to make new connections have already emerged. Our workforce training program will provide good, creative job opportunities to those who live near the incubator. Students from nearby Occidental College will connect to the neighborhood as volunteers. Shared governance makes new connections possible.

Each restaurant AbundantFeast launches will testify to inclusionary localism and urbanism. The restaurants will have a sense of place that even extends to the realm of politics. The basis of inclusion for the members of each stakeholder group is co-creation. Dining at the incubator will be an opportunity to champion aspiring chefs seeking a common table. Jonathan Gold also said: to make his Best of LA list “it has to be a restaurant that makes you look at Los Angeles in a new way.” AbundantFeast is a restaurant that is a chance to imagine a new Los Angeles.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

We will compile a dashboard of key performance indicators. Performance indicators are measures of our operational effectiveness and progress toward our goals. On equity for instance, we can survey the equity impacts of recent new restaurants to make a baseline. The equity impact of each restaurant we incubate is the increment it exceeds the baseline. Beyond tracking performance, we can look at patterns in the indicators to find ways to improve the incubation process.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
  • Network/relationship support
  • Quality improvement research