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Meet Duane Earle of Earle’s on Crenshaw

Today we’d like to introduce you to Duane Earle.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Earle’s Restaurant is owned and operated by my brother Cary Earle & myself (Duane Earle). We started as a hotdog cart over 36 years ago when Cary came from New York to study aeronautical engineering in California. During his studies Cary worked for an attorney part-time delivering subpoenas. One day while in Venice Beach, delivering a subpoena, he noticed some guys selling hotdogs and making a lot of profit. It was then that he had that “eureka moment!” With his skills from aeronautical design, Cary hooked up with a welder and made his 1st hot dog cart from scratch. Two years later, I moved from New York to LA to help with my brother’s newfound business.

From 1986-1996 the hotdog cart set up shop in the parking lot of the Crenshaw Swap Meet. It was there, feeding thousands in the neighborhood community and surround areas that we were able to establish our name, brand, and the hotdogs. After all, grilling and splitting dogs was our technique, an art we knew we mastered. Eventually, we were able to open our 1st brick and mortar location a few blocks from the hotdog cart. The location was ideal as it was still on Crenshaw Blvd and in the Leimert Park area. After a few years of having the brick and mortar store open we decide to shut down the hotdog cart at the Swap Meet. Our brick and mortar was now the only way to have Earle’s.

Over the years business increased, we started catering, and our popularity started to grow. Soon it became time for us to leave our location and search for a bigger spot. Our 1st store, which had seating for about 15 people, was open for about 17 years. As luck would have it we were able to find our next store in the same neighborhood with seating for plenty. However, seven years later, we had move again. This time the move was due to the city of LA needing the property we were on to build the new Metro Line. So we moved location for the 3rd time, but this move would be different. The city generously built our new location for us in our same neighborhood and on Crenshaw! Our current and brand new location is amazing!

Despite our location changes, the community and neighborhood have always been there for Earle’s since the very beginning. To see what Earle’s has become and to be part of this community is an incredible feeling and has been an amazing experience.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
We have had our ups, downs, highs and lows like anyone who decides to own a business. However, one of the hardest times we dealt with was when we had an unexpected health issues arise from a close family member. Our priority, as a family-owned business, has always been family, so making sure to care for the health of our loved ones is a must. Making sure medical bills, doctor’s visits, tests, and treatments were all paid and accounted for before everything else started to show in our business. Unfortunately, the City and State tend be strict on payments no matter what the circumstances are surrounding the business. We learned quickly that the best way for us to care for the family is to focus and ensure we found a balance within our personal and business duties. We not only had to think of our family, but also we couldn’t let down our staff, customers, or community. So from health issues to equipment failures, to flooding, to leaky roofs, and even staff loyalty, we have gone through and seen a lot over the last 30+ years.

Please tell us about Earle’s on Crenshaw.
At Earle’s Restaurant Hot Dogs is our specialty, splitting and grilling dogs is our technique. We’re the only ones to properly split and grill your hotdog. We offer you a choice of wheat, white, or gluten-free buns and almost 20 different toppings. Earle’s is also very proud to offer vegans and vegetarians options. It’s one of the only places a vegan/vegetarian can put veggie chili or veggie cheese on top of a vegan dog, burger or fries. We even have a multitude of desserts and even vegan pastries to make every meal is complete for every customer. It is great knowing that at least 50% of our clientele are meat eaters and the rest are vegan/vegetarians. Just remember, most meat eaters don’t go to vegan restaurants to eat and vice versa. We are happy that we can service both groups of people at one location.

Looking back now, would I have done things differently? Honestly, probably not. By offering amazing food and outstanding service we have been able to maintain Earle’s. Our customer base is now multi generational, and we are an important staple in the community. Earle’s has allowed us to provide jobs, work in partnership with the local community, as well as state and city agencies. The fact that we also cater is a huge benefit and something I’m proud to have mastered. With catering we are able to share Earle’s at events all over and serve great food and provide excellent service all over California. So despite everything I wouldn’t do anything differently as it has got Earle’s to where we are today.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Trips with my family to the Caribbean (my family has trinidadian roots) has always been special and some of my fondest memories form a child.

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