At Watts Coffee House, Desiree Edwards Is The One Running The Show
Produced by The Infatuation with
Since 1997, Desiree Edwards has been the owner of Watts Coffee House - the revival of the historic Watts Happening Coffee House, which sprung up as an arts and activism space after the neighborhood’s 1965 uprising. Today, it’s the only independently-owned dine-in restaurant in Watts, and a community hub that has evolved to meet the needs of its neighborhood.
Despite having owned Watts Coffee House almost 25 years, Edwards says guests with questions about the cafe’s Southern soul food menu still sometimes direct them to her male employees, rather than her. “At times, it gives me a twinge, but I laugh, because they will refer them to me,” she adds. Before she started Watts Coffee House, Edwards worked as a caterer. Today, she serves hearty soul food like shrimp and grits and gravy-smothered buttermilk biscuits to the Watts neighborhood.
Before the pandemic, Watts Coffee House served everyone from retired DWP employees to Harlem Globetrotters to students of nearby College Bridge Academy. Its commitment to the community has paid off during the pandemic. “When you strive to provide value, quality and good service, patrons will support you to ensure you survive,” Edwards says. Through COVID-19’s ups and downs and shifting public health guidance, she and the rest of her team have learned they’re more resilient than they realized.
When she looks back on her decades keeping Watts Coffee up and running, Edwards says her proudest accomplishment has been seeing the young people she’s mentored and employed succeed and support their local community. Typically, the careful, sustained work of maintenance goes overlooked in the novelty-seeking restaurant industry. For Edwards, it’s a core aspect of the Watts Coffee House mission day after day, and what keeps a historic community spot for the Black Community surviving and thriving with each passing year.
DoorDash believes that supporting and advancing women-owned businesses is an ongoing effort that demands action. Action we can take with our product, voice, and resources, including the partners we choose. DoorDash is proud to partner with RE:Her, a local LA nonprofit created by women-owned restaurants, that is committed to advancing women in the restaurant industry through mentorship, resources, and small business grants.