Oral Histories

Interview of Gregory Dulan

Second-generation restaurateur and owner of Dulan’s soul food restaurant on Crenshaw Boulevard.
Series:
"Where Do We Go from Here?" Histories of Long-term Black Business Ownership, Community, and Family in Los Angeles County
Topic:
Business
African American History
Interviewer:
Hester, Yolanda
Interviewee:
Dulan, Gregory
Persons Present:
Dulan and Hester.
Place Conducted:
Sessions one and two: Dulan's home; Session three: Dulan's office; Sessions four and five: Dulan's restaurant in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Yolanda Hester, UCLA Center for Oral History Research; M.A., African American studies, UCLA. Hester prepared for the interview in this series by looking at a number of books and articles that examined Black business ownership in a historical context, as well as articles that examined it from a social science perspective and looked at current socioeconomic debates and findings. For the Dulan interview, she also reviewed articles about the Dulan family and their businesses in the Los Angeles Sentinel, the Los Angeles Times, and the LA Weekly; read articles on demographic changes and impending gentrification in the Leimert Park neighborhood; and looked at sources on soul food and trends in African American culinary habits.
Processing of Interview:
The interviewer prepared a timed log of the audio recording of the interview. Dulan was given the opportunity to review the log in order to supply missing or misspelled names and to verify the accuracy of the content but made no changes.
Length:
4.5 hrs.
Language:
English
Copyright:
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Audio:
Series Statement:
This series documents long-term and multigenerational business ownership in the black community through oral history interviews with owners of businesses located in Los Angeles County. The title is inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.'s last book, Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos or Community, which The title is inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.'s last book, Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos or Community, which focused on economic issues, including issues related to black-owned businesses. Businesses were chosen to participate in the series based on two criteria: that the business had been in operation for at least twenty-five years and that it was currently active at the time of the interview. An effort was also made to ensure that the businesses selected represented a variety of sizes and industries. They range from small, local businesses with only a couple of employees to enterprises that have a regional and even national reach, and the industries represented include construction, real estate, insurance, communications, dry cleaning, restaurants and catering, mortuaries, barbershops, and stove repair. Due to limited resources and time constraints, the interviews focused primarily on businesses in the Pasadena area and in South Los Angeles, with selected businesses in Hollywood, Gardena, and downtown Los Angeles as well. South Los Angeles remains one of the most important centers of Black economic activity in the region, and the Pasadena area has historically been a final stop for many Blacks who migrated to Southern California. It is also important to note that although the series focused mostly on these two areas, the reach and customer base of these businesses span well beyond their local communities. The first section of each oral history covers the individual’s family and migration history. The second and third sections then examine each business from two perspectives: (1) the day-to-day functioning of the business, i.e., staffing, profit and losses, marketing, etc., and (2) broader businesses strategies, including responses to policy changes, technological development, demographic shifts, and changes in the economy. For reasons that included scheduling, health, and capacity issues, some of the business owners who were invited to be interviewed declined. Those businesses included Eso Won Books, Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, Pete’s Foods Products, Winmax Construction Corporation, Beauchamp Distributing Company, and Gallery Plus. The UCLA Center for Oral History Research has also created a website that offers more context about black businesses in Los Angeles and includes numerous audio clips from this interview series. See https://www.library.ucla.edu/community-commerce-oral-histories-african-american-businesses-los-angeles
Birth and growing up in Los Angeles—Businesses in South Los Angeles—Family background and traditions—Father, Adolf Dulan, opens Hamburger City—Working in the family business—Being bussed to Westchester High School—Racism during high school years.
Attending Howard University—Life in Washington, D.C.—Summer internships and working in a bank—Being recruited into Chase Manhattan internship program—Racism at Chase—Getting hired at Chase—Work life and travel at Chase—Working with small business owners in the Bronx—Being African American in the banking industry in the ‘70s—Racism during his travels—Returning to the family business.
Racism in corporate environments—Effectiveness of diversity recruitment programs in the banking industry—Mentoring his brother at Chase—Father opens Aunt Kizzy’s Back Porch—Father’s transition from Hamburger City to Aunt Kizzy’s Back Porch—“Miss Flossie” of Flossie’s becomes Aunt Kizzy’s chef—Working with his father and transitioning to his own business—Starting a catering business—Early days of Aunt Kizzy’s Catering.
Purchases business property—Southern vs. soul food—Menu and Black culinary traditions—Owning both a catering and a restaurant business—Biggest catering event and lessons learned—The L.A. Riots and how they jump started Dulan's restaurant business.
Business model and biggest expenses—Staffing and marketing—The impact of social media—Getting into the school lunch business—Competition—Father’s advice—Expansion—Impact of neighborhood demographic change—Technological changes—Advice to young entrepreneurs.