LOS ANGELES-The annual October “Taste of Soul” event in South Los Angeles has two great things it promotes feverishly: good music and good food.
The music, mainly powered by the KJLH teaming with Buffalo Wild Wings this year, was on point Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, with acts like 112, Mike Phillips, Jazmine Sullivan, Guordan Banks and Major hitting the stage with over a quarter of a million people on the ground listening to their sounds.
The food, as expected, brought out the long lines and plenty of temp lazy chairs as people patiently waited to sample red snapper, crawl fish, shrimp, chicken wings and other soul food delectable eateries that folks fawn over.
It’s a great fall prelude to the holiday season with Thanksgiving and Christmas knocking on the door for consumer’s attention. One thing those holidays are known are all the great eatery dishes that your mother, grandmother, great, great grandmother and relatives serve to you on a hot plate.
Imagine that a couple hundred times over. That’s what “Taste of Soul” is about. It is a splendor of wondrous foods that gives you the soul-tasting appetite that you thought only mamma can make.
When it comes to putting your mouth on some wings to chow down on, nobody makes them better than Buffalo Wild Wings. They surely don’t make them as well and as delicious as the Buffalo Wild Wings franchise that sits adjacent to the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.
Karim Webb, co-owner and operations partner of PCF Restaurant Management, which oversees this unit of the Buffalo Wild Wings franchise, makes sure of that. A restaurant guru with over 25 years in the food industry, Webb wants nothing more than to make his customers happy.
If the customers are happy, they’ll comeback and spread the word to other people. In return, this allows the franchise to do more business. More business means more sales. More sales equates to more money that is returned back to the community that is revealed through the hiring of local students and residents.
It’s all karma. The business comes into the community. The community does business with the commerce entity. What makes this partnership works best is when the two come together in one united force as demonstrated in the carefully outlined yearly “Taste of Soul” event.
Being involved in the community is what Webb and his franchise Buffalo Wild Wings is all about. So when it came to being part of the “Taste of Soul” phenomenon, it was basically a no-brainer for Webb and the restaurant.
“I think that when you have a business, you are part of a community, ” Webb said. “So you have a choice about the way that you connect with it,” Webb said. “You can either ignore it and disrespect it or you can try to find a way to make a difference. We do that in a lot of ways. A Taste of Soul is just one.”
Philanthropy is nothing new to Webb. Giving back to the community is more than a notion for the Los Angeles entrepreneur. Webb, who sits on the Board of Corporate Advisors for the Brotherhood Crusade, and is a spokesperson for BLOOM, an initiative of the California Community Foundation, views the collaboration between local businesses and the communities they serve, as bit of a necessity for both parties.
It is even more imperative in communities of color that this dynamic is played out. South Los Angeles is one of those communities. By being sponsors of the KJLH Buffalo Wild Wings stage, Webb, Edward Barnett and their Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, are able to transform inaction into action.
Jobs are created. Mentoring becomes a fruitful tool. The connection between community and local businesses is strengthened. An event like “Taste of Soul” highlights this.
“I think it’s a unique opportunity for us because as a franchisee when you can prove to your franchise board or fellow franchisees, that you have the ability to connect with your community and maybe you can leverage the resources that you otherwise wouldn’t have,” Webb said. “For an example, if I had Karim’s Chicken ‘N’ Waffles or whatever, a sports bar, I would have a finite amount of resources.
“I wouldn’t have the dollars that it would take to sponsor something like this. But because I am part of a bigger system, they can say, ‘Hey, man, we really like the way that you connect with the community, we embrace diversity.’ I’m able to bring them something and say is this something that you guys see as worth sponsoring? And then they entrust me in making sure that it works. Taste of Soul is a great platform to be able to do that.”
What the event also bring out is the visibility of Webb and Barnett and what they mean to the community. By employing locals, particularly young minorities, Webb is simply paying it forward.
“It’s important that I’m employing these young people, because when I employ them I can, maybe, relate to them differently than someone else that may not be as culturally astute or emphatically concerned with what’s possible for themselves and their families moving forward,”said Webb. “I have the ability to take a young person that may not be necessarily be on the right track and say, ‘Wait a minute, God loves you the same way he loves me.'”
“Whether I’ve got you on fries, whether you’re dropping rings or you’re a server or you’re cleaning a bathroom or whatever, find a way to be outstanding,” Webb added. “Learn how to be outstanding. Then talk about what you want to create for yourself. Whatever that is, you’re only going to get there if you’re persistent and being outstanding everyday.”