Photo Illustration by Erendira Mancias/The Root/GMG; photo by Lawrence Ross/The Root;

I asked folks, “Which black businesses should I check out in Phoenix?” and universally people said, “Lo-Lo’s Chicken and Waffles.” I agreed. But what they didn’t know is that the owner of Lo-Lo’s is my cousin Larry White.

Here’s the quick-and-dirty black-family story of how we’re cousins: Larry’s mother, Elizabeth White, is my Aunt Bethy, and she is the sister of my great-grandmother Big Momma Jesse Green, and the aunt of my grandmother Willie Lee Green. Now, my mom, Eveline, is known to Aunt Bethy as “Baby,” and since I’m my mother’s oldest child, I’m known to her as “Baby’s Oldest Baby,” which makes Larry my cousin. Whew!

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But beyond our family connection, in Phoenix, the Whites are known for delicious food. Aunt Bethy is the owner of one of the oldest black restaurants in the city, Miss White’s Golden Rule Cafe, but her son Larry has branched out to create Lo-Lo’s Chicken and Waffles, which not only provides delicious food but also shows how black businesses can progress from generation to generation.

First let’s talk about the food. Since I’m from Los Angeles, everyone asked whether I thought it was better than Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles; and as much as it hurts to say it, the King of Chicken and Waffles now resides in Phoenix, not Los Angeles. I like my chicken smothered in gravy, with real grits, and one bite in, I knew that it was a wrap. There was only one winner.

Lawrence Ross/The Root
Lawrence Ross/The Root
Lawrence Ross/The Root

But beyond the food, if the Tabb Restaurant represents what happens when you’re marginalized in a segregated society, Lo-Lo’s represents what happens when you exist in a nominally pluralistic society. Professional, expertly branded, packed full of customers, Lo-Lo’s Chicken and Waffles is the dream that Victor Green had when he first started writing The Negro Motorist Green Book in 1936: an American restaurant accessible to all Americans.

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Total spent at Lo-Lo’s: $20 + $10 tip: $30

Total spent on black businesses on #TheRootTrip: $74.23