It's a family affair at the family-owned restaurant Georgia's Restaurant at Long Beach Exchange (LBX). 

The Southern comfort food establishment opened earlier in July, serving dishes of fried chicken, biscuits and gravy and pork chops. The LBX location is the restaurant's second eatery. Their first, located in the Anaheim Packing District, opened in 2016.

Gretchen Shoemaker, restaurant owner and lead chef, said that she wanted her restaurant to feel like home for its diners, filled with comfort food and a family-like environment — but she couldn't accomplish that without her own family.

"I give my daughter and son-in-law credit for expanding the restaurant over here," she said. "They're in charge of the business, I just do the cooking."

Shoemaker added that the menu has had a little help. 

Shoemaker's son-in-law is responsible for the restaurant's popular fried chicken recipe, which thanks to his Brazilian background, features a twist of Brazilian spices.

"We knew we didn't want to be a regular chicken place because anyone can make fried chicken," Shoemaker's daughter, Nika Shoemaker-Machado, said. "My husband, being from Southern Brazil, created his version, which gets its bite from a mix of herbs, and it's our most popular dish by far."

As for the rest of the menu, it was largely inspired by Shoemaker's family roots in Delaware, she said, and features more than 200 years worth of family recipes.

"My grandmother’s people were slaves in Delaware," Shoemaker said. "Just like the movie ‘The Help,’ that was my town, being in the house and cooking with recipes made for white families."

Shoemaker added that while some of the recipes haven't changed since she learned how to cook them, other recipes have been tweaked — but diners, she hopes, will enjoy their meals and feel at home.

"All cooking is soul food, the food I cook I make from my soul," she said. "You'll know that when you taste it."

And one fun fact Shoemaker was happy to share: she graduated from the same high school in Pennsylvania as Kobe Bryant.

"I graduated a few years earlier in 1958," she said. "But I still can say we went to the same school!"

Georgia's Restaurant is located at Long Beach Exchange, 4101 McGowen St. Suite 155.

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Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at

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