My 2 Cents (“Web Only”)


Food Culture: Sustenance + {Re}supply

Soul Food as Sidewalk + Kiosk Style

Businesses to support during the pandemic are ones like this woman run eatery at Pico Boulevard on the west side in Los Angeles. Another prominent sign tells you that it’s a black owned business too. The indoor dining area is completely closed off to customers, and a few chairs and tables allow customers to eat on site – sidewalk cafe style. Several people simply pick up their orders to go. It’s swinging here.

“Do you know of an eatery that is black woman owned?” I ask a woman I met recently. She is someone with a bright aura who currently makes and sells hula hoops among other interesting merchandise, like artistic lunar calendars. Her name is Shani and you can find her at where she shares her delightful wares with patrons. It was a question via DM of course, like most social interactions during a pandemic. We had met very briefly in person at an art venue. I explain that this is for a magazine that highlights the entrepreneurial spirit of women, and I am missing a spot in the food section where another restaurant declined due to excessive workload (probably a good problem to have in the restaurant business).

Perhaps due to my recent job loss in the COVID corporate world, I’m at a loss for what to do with myself. I spend a lot of time investigating alternative ways for women to make a living or supplement their incomes these days. ‘How have people done it all this time? ‘It’s something I didn’t think deeply about when we had a “normal” economy, when the jobs I sought still had a market.

As a perpetual outsider and LA transplant, I am asking for BIPOC voices because I am hoping to create a magazine that is as diverse as all the magazines I’ve read in the past generally were not. In order to achieve that, I’ve attempted to gather the content myself. Eateries are a good place to start talking about diversity. The experience of eating is universal. Everybody eats. Food is what communities are built on. Recently, Airbnb came out with a magazine that has an eclectic spread of food and culture (in addition to lodging of course) but it mostly requires travel – to places like New Orleans, Italy, basically anywhere but here. What do we have here? What is within reach?

Los Angeles is spread out. I’ve lived here over a couple of decades, on and off, but people keep to themselves and their usual haunts. I’m not leaving the house often, in pandemic mode, let alone supporting women owned black businesses. I’m certainly not traveling. ‘Where are these businesses anyway?’, I wonder. The last time I looked for something a little more flavorful was when I searched for soul food. That was when I moved back to this area from Manhattan 7 years ago, I didn’t find much on Yelp and sort of gave up after that. I was grateful for Shani’s recommendation, and very excited to try soul food with a twist when I arrived at My 2 Cents LA (

Outdoor Dining/Takeout/Tasting

There is a parking lot adjacent to the restaurant but it is full. I go around to find metered parking parallel to the location. Other people are in line, so I check out the menu that sits on a sheet music stand in the sidewalk while I wait. I want to try the oxtail tacos, but the shrimp and grits look good too. When I get to the cashier, I ask, “What’s good?” The cashier recommends the item listed as Creole Shrimp and Corn Grits on the menu, so I go with that. I love grits – one of my favorite breakfast items when I was a kid, but I’d never tried grits with shrimp. Intrigued, I order takeout but I also want to try the food while it’s still hot, so I sit down at the nearest table by the counter. Fluffy, buttery grits are immersed in a delicate dairy tinged seafood broth. The shrimp is nice and crisp (not powdery or tough). This combination of flavors is pleasant and filling

Creole Shrimp and Corn Grits: Secret Shrimp Creole, Creamy corn Parmesan grits. ($17.00) Photo by Slow + Sustain.

To give it some kick, I add hot sauce from the bucket of goodies on the table (including hand sanitizer for customers), and I keep going until my order is nearly half gone. Sated after a rich and hearty meal, I get ready to leave and notice the cashier hasn’t had a break in a while, but now it’s quiet and she smiles from behind the counter when I hold up my phone camera to snap some photos (they will help jolt my memory later on).

Cashier sits at the counter, blocked off by a table with enough distance to keep her safe. Interior is closed. Photo by Slow + Sustain.
Happy cashier talks to a few regulars who stop by for pick-up orders, and friendly towards the folks who sit down to eat. Photo by Slow + Sustain.

The food feels like a treat. All the customers walking away with brown bags at lunch hour are a testament to that. I notice the people at the table next to me are really enjoying their meal. They are having such a good time that I muster up the courage to ask for a photograph. One of them turns to me and nods it is okay, and the group carries on with their conversation. The meal seems to fuel their intimate social gathering. I’m glad I made my way out here to locate another eatery that I would come back to. This seems like a good place to visit with company on a different occasion. Next time, I’d like to try a different dish.

Happy patrons eating outdoors at the sidewalk cafe. Photo by Slow + Sustain.
Cook puts his hands up for a picture! Photo by Slow + Sustain.

Written by Jessica Lo (Editor and Zine Compiler for This Issue)

Workshops and the zine are organized by Slow + Sustain through the volunteer efforts of our contributors. Funding comes from both the contributors and the public.

Become a Subscriber and Get Exclusive Offers!

Members get access to exclusive exhibits and sales. Our memberships come in 3 tiers and are billed only once a year.