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After serving a jumble of Creole, New Orleans Cajun, South-Western soul food and East-Coast southern fare in San Fernando Valley for 35 years, family-owned Les Sisters’ Southern Kitchen & BBQ is opening a second Chatsworth location within walking distance at 20450 Nordhoff St. this Spring.
“What it comes down to is loyalty, family, a consistently great product and great service,” said owner Jessica Huling of the restaurant’s multi-generational success. “[Our new location will be] a continuation of that… we have a strong customer base [and we are] active within the community — I can’t do it without them.”
When Huling’s grandmother Clara opened their flagship restaurant in 1986 with Roda Hadi and Willie Stanford, the three “agreed to keep their day jobs,” unaware of their small cafe’s impending success. Hadi ran the seafood bar at the popular Fireside Inn in Encino and had mastered Cajun cooking. Stanford owned Our Place in Northridge and Huling’s grandmother had learned to cook soul food at her mother’s restaurant, Yuma. After rave reviews from the L.A. Times and Valley News, the trio brought their total attention to Les Sisters, and Jessica’s father, Kevin, took over in 1992. In 2014, Huling took the restaurant’s helm, along with Susan Warner, a long-time friend of the Huling family and the eatery’s first waitress who passed away on Mardi Gras in 2018.
“At the time, [Les Sisters] was going to close and I saw potential to run the business a different way — I took a chance,” said Huling. “I feel that [Susan] and the angels above me are guiding me through this process… I feel like I have some real angels over me — not just her, but my mother, brother and grandparents who all worked here and were a part of the family dream. It’s up to me to keep our legacy going, and it’s a huge task, but I got good guidance.”
Huling said that items on the menu — like their jambalaya, slew of fried chicken dishes, red snapper, catfish, and crawfish — were all devised by her grandmother and the restaurant’s original founders but have been “tweaked” to improve higher-quality ingredients — “I want to put the best product that I have out there on the line, that’s really important to me.”
Hungry patrons can also get their fingers sticky with baby back barbequed ribs, sliced top round, shrimp, hot links, “char-bequed” fish, honey-glazed pork chops and “Southern burgers” topped with house-made cole slaw.
The restaurant has remained a Chatsworth mainstay for decades, withstanding economic lows, an earthquake and a devastating fire. Regardless, the down-home eatery continuously earns Zagat ratings, and has been denoted “Best in Class” by City Search.
“We outgrew ourselves long ago and knew [we] needed more space to supply the demand,” wrote Huling in a Facebook post. “Then came the stay at home orders. I was afraid this small restaurant wouldn’t make it on take-out only. But you showed us the opposite. Matter [of] fact, the kitchen had to waive the white flag a few times!”
To maintain the quality and tastiness that Les Sisters’ customers have come to expect, Huling said that she will “piggyback” between the two Chatsworth eateries. She told What Now Los Angeles that she will run both Les Sisters iterations “until [she] can’t.”