September 28, 2020 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Long Beach’s Sweet Dixie Kitchen gives back to LGBTQ+ community after chicken scandal

By Jorge Paniagua

Long Beach’s Sweet Dixie Kitchen, which serves Southern comfort cuisine, is a restaurant attempting to heal after controversy — one involving Popeye’s fried chicken and an, oftentimes, unapologetic business owner.

Yet, the restaurant is ready for a second opportunity — a redemption of sorts — from its neighboring community.

The restaurant, owned and operated by Kim Sanchez, sits in an old-fashioned building on the corner of 3rd and Elm street in Long Beach’s Art District. The ambient in the restaurant’s surrounding neighborhood is calm and collect — an ideal fit for a diner that aims to provide a comfortable experience for its clientele.

Photo: Jorge Paniagua.

Sweet Dixie Kitchen is an LGBTQ+-owned and LGBTQ+-friendly restaurant providing a safe place for the city’s many community members. The LGBTQ-pride flag normally flies right outside of the restaurant’s doors but it keeps being stolen, according to Sanchez.

Sanchez, who openly identifies as a lesbian woman, enjoys remaining an active member of her community. For instance, Sweet Dixie Kitchen has been a part of the Long Beach Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce for the past four years. The chamber serves as a networking and support organization which aims to connect gay-friendly and gay-owned businesses in Long Beach.

Moreover, Sanchez and her partner, Victoria Person, are proud to be LGBTQ+ people. Person is a board-member of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
The couple enjoy participating in events provided by the Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Center. Both were executive producers at this year’s OUTFest, an LA-based film festival showcasting LGBTQ-interest films.

Since last October’s scandal, the restaurant has focused on providing community-outreach within the city. For example, Sanchez tries her best to support the Long Beach’s LGBTQ+ Center by donating pastries and gift certificates whenever she is able to.

“I’ve been in touch with Porter at The Center — if they ever need anything,” Sanchez said. “We would give them the restaurant space for free, if they need it for meeting space. It’s open and available to them. I’ll donate to whatever they’re doing.”

The restaurant has also donated, either monetarily or with complimentary food, to the Long Beach Library Foundation, Pathways to Independence, Special Olympics fundraiser and other causes, Sanchez said.

The scandal

Last October, Sweet Dixie Kitchen’s normally-tranquil environment was interrupted by angry online reviewers, profound media attention and a diminishing clientele.

The restaurant was at the center of a peculiar scandal — one Sanchez coins as “PopeyesGate.” It turns out that the menu included two seasonal items – one of which was a chicken and waffles dish, featuring Popeye’s fried chicken rather than a freshly-fried option.

Photo: Yelp

As reported by Tim Grobaty for the Press Telegram in October 2017, the restaurant was “facing a digital firestorm ever since a Yelp user posted that the fried chicken they’re serving actually comes from the fast food chain Popeyes.”

As a result of the competition brought about by neighboring restaurants in the community, Sanchez said that she wanted to add a limited-time menu item that would prove to be a hit with customers while staying true to the restaurant’s overall Southern theme.

Fried chicken and waffles seemed like the perfect fit, Sanchez said. Yet, as a result of her restaraunt being in a historic Long Beach building, one routinely policed by health inspectors, she was unable to add a deep fryer to her kitchen.

“I’ve got a very small kitchen that’s pretty old, back there,” Sanchez said. “So, we don’t have a lot of equipment and we can’t put a fryer in because we don’t have the proper grease-trapping things for it. We would have to do a whole demolition of the kitchen and, kind of, start over if we wanted to fry our own food.”

According to the Long Beach Water Department’s website, fats, oils and greases (FOG) are serious problems for the city’s public sewer system. Large amounts of these greases, as reported by the department, are “illegally washed into sewers mainly from food preparation establishments (usually through kitchen sinks and floor drains) that do not have adequate grease control measures in place.”

“We just thought it would be a fun thing to do. Completely innocent,” Sanchez said. “Just a fun thing to do.”

The owner’s intentions, entirely influenced by her drive to provide fried chicken in her Southern-themed restaurant, were rooted from a carefree, happy-go-lucky, mindset. However, the neighboring community’s reception, specifically on Yelp, was far from amused.

Yelp reviewer, Tyler H., whose review broke the news that Sanchez used Popeye’s chicken, started his October 2017 review of Sweet Dixie Kitchen with, “THE CHICKEN THEY USE IS FROM POPEYES!” and, ended his review with, “I challenge you to be honest with your customers…put it on your menu that you “proudly” serve Popeyes chicken. You do this for coffee … why not for Popeyes chicken?

Sanchez said that her use of fried fast-food chicken was never a secret. Yet, she believes that the media manipulated their coverage of the story to make it seem as though she had been exposed.

Since the scandal, the restaurant has struggled to recover financially and Sanchez’s spirit remains “fractured.”

“Popeyes was a huge stressor for me,” she said. “It sucked most of the life out of me and since I’m the driving force here it’s been hard to come back from that personally. It’s hard to, some days, come in here and try to create something. It’s really hard.”

Sanchez wants a second opportunity to show Long Beach that her restaurant is worthy of their time and hard-earned cash.

“I would really like to be given a fair opportunity, by my community,” Sanchez said. “Come back and eat — see what we’re doing. You know, if you don’t like it, you never have to come back again. But come back once just to see.”

Despite Sanchez’ community outreach, she remains divided on the defamation caused by the controversy. She, of course, regrets the choice but also remains hurt by all of the online “trolls” who harassed her on a constant basis.

Sweet Dixie Kitchen will be bringing back a special edition menu item, featuring Popeye’s fried chicken, every Friday in October. Sanchez said that she feels it is necessary to commemorate such a traumatic time in her life in this humorous way.

Sweet Dixie Kitchen is located at 401 E 3rd St, Long Beach, CA 90802. For more information, click HERE. 

Related Posts

WeHo Bar Gold Coast Closing Permanently

September 27, 2020

September 27, 2020

Gold Coast, one of the oldest gay bars in West Hollywood, is closing permanently after 39 years.  The Gold Coast...

Helen Albert Farmers’ Market To Reopen

September 20, 2020

September 20, 2020

The City of West Hollywood will reopen the Helen Albert Certified Farmers’ Market at Plummer Park from 9 a.m. to...

WeHo Cooling Center At Plummer Park

September 17, 2020

September 17, 2020

With temperatures expected to rise to more than 90 degrees over the next week, the City of West Hollywood will...

Los Angeles CEO Jeffrey Previte Caught Beating Dog

September 12, 2020

September 12, 2020

Jeffrey Previte, the CEO of EBI Consulting an environmental consulting firm in Los Angeles, was captured on camera at the...

Rage Nightclub Permanently Closing

September 10, 2020

September 10, 2020

After 37 years Rage nightclub located at the northwest corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and San Vicente in West Hollywood...

OUTFEST Announces “Taiwan Program”

September 6, 2020

September 6, 2020

The 2020 Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Taiwan (R.O.C) and Taiwan Academy...

LGBTQ Center Long Beach Fires Executive Director Porter Gilberg

September 6, 2020

September 6, 2020

The Board of Directors of the LGBTQ Center Long Beach announced that it will not renew the employment contract of...

Long Beach QFilm Festival

August 30, 2020

August 30, 2020

The 2020 Long Beach QFilm Festival, is a celebration of the rich diversity and experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,...

Date Night In Times Of COVID

August 23, 2020

August 23, 2020

As things to do in times of COVID-19 dwindle down to staying in your home and watching a specific streaming...

Queer Owned Cuties Coffee Shop Closes

August 23, 2020

August 23, 2020

Cuties, Los Angeles’ only queer focused coffee shop, has closed permanently due to the stresses of COVID-19.  The East Hollywood...

Unicorn Pizza in Santa Monica

August 9, 2020

August 9, 2020

DagWoods’, a popular pizza spot in Santa Monica, is home to the “Magical AF” pizza that’s been featured on shows...

The LGBTQ Center Long Beach Makes Some Changes

July 29, 2020

July 29, 2020

For more than three decades, The LGBTQ Center Long Beach has provided a variety of health, social, advocacy, legal, and...

Edify TV: Santa Monica Burger King Employee Dies from COVID-19

July 15, 2020

July 15, 2020

A transgender woman employee of a Santa Monica Burger King died from COVID-19 but the fast food chain is allegedly...

LA Pride Leaving West Hollywood

July 14, 2020

July 14, 2020

Christopher Street West announces LA Pride will not be in West Hollywood By Sam Catanzaro Christopher Street West (CSW), the...

Local Leaders Celebrate Supreme Court LGBT Discrimination Ban

June 16, 2020

June 16, 2020

Supreme Court votes 6-3 in case Bostock v. Clayon County, Georgia By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles-area leaders are celebrating the...