Pragnesh Shah opened his North Carolina Exxon location in October 2017. When he first began operating his gas station, Pragnesh realized that he had a great opportunity to make the most of his c-store space. This ambitious store owner started enhancing his business right away to increase foot traffic and boost his profits.
Merchant Snapshot: Hawkins House of Burgers
80+ Years of Serving Los Angeles… from Locals to Celebrities
goEBT EBT processing merchant Hawkins House of Burgers, home to “The Best Burger in Los Angeles,” has been a staple in the Watts neighborhood of southeast Los Angeles for more than 80 years. Cynthia Hawkins, the youngest of 14 children, is the third generation of her family to manage this business, which has adapted over the years to fit the needs of the community.
The Hawkins family moved from Arkansas to the Watts neighborhood in Los Angeles, California in the mid-1930s. Originally a malt shop built by Cynthia’s grandfather in 1939, the family business was eventually converted to a small grocery store before finally opening its doors as Hawkins House of Burgers.
The Hawkins family has lived in the Watts community for a long time – long enough to experience the effects of the Watts Uprising of 1965 and the Los Angeles Riots of 1992.
During both events, many businesses in the Watts community were burned down. The Hawkins storefront, however, was left standing. Cynthia believes that their family business survived partly because of the Hawkins family’s commitment to their community.
This commitment to the Watts neighborhood and emphasis on high-quality food has helped Hawkins House of Burgers make a name for itself in the City of Angels. It is no surprise that the restaurant has also attracted its fair share of celebrities, including professional athletes, late rapper and Los Angeles native Nipsey Hussle, and former First Lady and Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Giving Back to the Watts Community
Hawkins House of Burgers is not only committed to making a great burger but also to helping their community in any way they can. In addition to employing community members, the restaurant also donates any leftover fresh food to homeless people in the community.
“Our bottom line is and shall always be the community. Our number one priority has always been assisting our community in times of need, whether they have the funds or not,” said Cynthia Hawkins.
Hawkins House of Burgers also plays an important role in how community members receive access to nutritious foods. In the Watts neighborhood, not many quick-serve restaurants serve food with fresh ingredients, and there are no big grocery stores. Hawkins House of Burgers enables the surrounding community to purchase hot, fresh meals at affordable prices, which helps improve access to nutritious foods in the area.
Processing EBT Payments with goEBT
Using their goEBT COUNTERTOP smart payment terminal, Hawkins House of Burgers accepts EBT payments through the California Restaurant Meals Program. This program allows eligible homeless, disabled and/or elderly EBT recipients to use their CalFresh SNAP benefits to purchase hot, prepared food from participating restaurants.
At least 20% of the restaurant’s sales are generated from EBT customers, which has helped sustain Hawkins House of Burgers during the COVID-19 pandemic: “Our business is located in a poverty-stricken community that relies heavily on EBT and the California Restaurant Meals Program. EBT has been an essential part of our business, and we are so honored to provide fresh, nutritious meals to the members of our community via goEBT’s reliable EBT processing.”
Since 2014, goEBT has provided EBT processing for Hawkins House of Burgers, which has allowed the quick-serve restaurant to reliably provide a needed service for their community: “When it comes to EBT processing, goEBT is second to NONE! The support team members at goEBT always respond quickly and effectively, which allows us to focus our attention on our customers’ needs,” praised Cynthia Hawkins.
Hawkins House of Burgers has thrived for several decades due to their strength and perseverance, and goEBT is proud to provide EBT processing for this long-lived community staple. Great food and affordable prices may draw customers to Hawkins House of Burgers, but the restaurant’s commitment to supporting the Watts community is truly the backbone of their business. While great food is a recipe for success, the Hawkins family has cooked up an even better recipe: caring for your community above all else.
We would like to thank the Hawkins family for sharing their story with us, and we are excited to see how their business continues to support their community in the future.