Chef Q&A: Greg Horos and Melissa Rosen of Locali Healthy Convenience
In this new Q&A series, we’re taking you inside the kitchen to learn more about the chefs preparing some of the most extraordinary dishes in our favorite West Hollywood restaurants.
If 7-Eleven and Whole Foods had a baby, Locali would be it! That’s how Locali Healthy Convenience & Deli best describes itself. Greg Horos and Melissa Rosen, co-owners of Locali, have created a neighborhood deli that features one of L.A.’s best breakfasts sandwiches (that’s completely vegan!) and a menu filled with tasty options that make healthy eating super easy.
Can you give us a brief description of Locali?
From the Italian word meaning “the place to be at,” Locali is a reimagined, sustainable convenient store and neighborhood deli that’s changing the way consumers view healthy eating. Our West Hollywood location offers nutritional deli offerings alongside a carefully curated selection of beverages, pantry staples, grab & go meals, health & beauty and frozen treats. We also serve fresh soups, salads, sandwiches, smoothies and snacks made with organic ingredients. If 7-Eleven and Whole Foods had a baby, Locali would be it!
What is unique about the store & the dishes you serve?
Locali’s menu is truly one-of-a-kind, with nothing else like it on the market. I’m a certified health counselor, and created most of the menu, which is very customizable and bridges dietary restrictions from vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free to paleo. Our deli features award-winning, soul-satisfying sandwiches, smoothies, etc. that use organic, non-GMO ingredients, when possible. Some of our customer favorites include the vegan Reuben sandwich, which contains marinated vegan deli slices, vegan cheese, sauerkraut and Locali-made vegan Russian dressing served on marble rye bread, The Brekkie Burrito with scrambled sprouted tofu, vegan cheese, black beans, bell pepper and red onion stuffed inside a sprouted multigrain tortilla with a side of salsa and chipotle sauce, and the Kombucha Float, for those looking for a guilt-free treat, served with dairy free/soy free/gluten free/ coconut frozen yogurt.
Each and every item on our menu is thoughtfully created down to the very last touch, including the ingredients in our homemade salad dressings and sauces to the reverse osmosis filtered water and ice used in our coffee, tea and smoothies, which results in satisfying, delicious foods that nourish the body.
How did you end up in West Hollywood?
We had support from the beginning from many West Hollywood residents that would travel regularly to our other existing locations. The West Hollywood area was always a dream for us to serve because of the way the community supports small businesses. Our realtor, Greg Briest at JLL, brought us an ideal space on Santa Monica Blvd and we jumped at the opportunity.
When did you first realize you wanted to be in the nutrition field? When did you two first realize you wanted to open Locali?
Greg had a love for physical fitness and healthy eating from his early teenage years. I did not develop that similar passion until my late 20s. Spurred by concern about the obesity epidemic and a burgeoning interest in my own personal wellness, I began studying to be a health counselor. After working at a hospital treating Type II diabetes and thyroid issues with nutrition protocols, I saw the need for healthy foods to be served in more convenient settings based on the patients inability to regularly access the foods we suggested on our protocol. This was over 10 years ago.
Greg and I discussed the need for this sort of disruptive retail model, as back then, most natural food snacks and pantry staples could only be found in larger natural food chains like Whole Foods. From ideation to opening the business doors at our first location in the Franklin Village section of Hollywood. It took about 6 months. It was a whirlwind, but from the jump we had success because we were providing food and customer service that was memorable.
What’s your specialty dish?
Our specialty dish is the Baaadass Breakfast Sandwich, named by Thrillist as one of L.A.’s best breakfast sandwiches in the city. The warm sandwich is completely vegan and contains a vegan sausage patty, vegan cheddar cheese, homemade chipotle sauce with a drizzle of maple syrup on a sprouted multigrain English muffin. It’s what we call a “last-meal worthy” breakfast item here at Locali.
It’s your off day and you’re feeling lazy, what do you prepare at home?
I’m a very new mom so I’m pretty lazy at the moment. My home food prep often involves calling Greg to order Locali for me to eat at home! I’m very simple with my eating and cooking tastes. My very favorite thing to eat is just a lemon and olive oil dressed cabbage salad. I also love to make homemade guacamole and have it with endives (for a healthy chip fix).
You have 4 friends coming over for dinner, what’s on the menu?
Bruschetta (using my mom’s recipe) with garlic toast points, Gluten-Free Artichoke Tapenade Lasagna, Arugula Salad and Lemon Sorbet.
What’s your favorite dish at Locali?
Our vegan Georgia Blonde Sandwich (with vegan deli meat, vegan swiss cheese, red cabbage slaw, vegan Russian dressing, creamy dill dressing & stone ground mustard on Sourdough bread) and our Dirty Shamrock smoothie (caco power, avocado, dates, peppermint, almond milk, banana and coconut yogurt)
What dish would you like to add to your restaurant’s menu?
A vegan chickpea “tuna” salad. It’s coming to our next menu.
What would you say is the importance of food in our culture?
As we are continually isolated due to our smart phone reliance, food is still a beautiful way for us to connect with others, be it with family over a special meal or strangers via a foodie post on Instagram. Food can bring us together in ways that most things no longer can in our increasingly divisive world.
How has being in California shaped your food sourcing practices?
California is the epicenter of healthy living and fresh ingredients. We are lucky to be able to source much of our ingredients locally as a result.