Wednesday, October 16, 2019
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Soul Food Shack Owners Dajuan and Naena White Balance Raising a Family and Feeding the Community They Love
By Saybin Roberson, Contributing Writer
Published October 10, 2019

Dajuan and Naena White, owners of Soul Food Shack (courtesy photo)

Two Los Angeles natives teamed up in marriage and business to bring forth the Soul Food Shack in Gardena.

Dajuan and Naena White met each other over 20 years ago and have since been glued together since. May of 2018 the two opened their pride and joy, the Soul Food Shack to bring people of all kinds together and feed the community.

Located at the corner of El Segundo and Western, the Black-owned restaurant serves up oxtails, fried chicken, delicious red velvet waffles and fruity pebble french toast. The family-friendly foodie hub offers a special twist to many of America’s most favorite dishes, with new menu items being rolled out frequently.

Starting from humble beginnings, Dajuan and Naena began selling plates of food in the parking lot of Naena’s and her daughter’s hair salon to clients. The demand became so large the two began selling dinner plates multiple days out of the week, causing a massive crowd of happy people, laughter and great food every week.

With the help of family members, they were able to go months with a successful business without a brick and mortar location, however, after seeing the impact they made on the community, they decided it was time to purchase a standstill location and build upon their success.

“We grinded out here in this parking lot selling plates, all day Saturday and Sunday until we got the money,” Dajuan shares, continuing, “soon as we got the money we opened the restaurant.”

In the past 17 months, Soul Food Shack has risen in popularity and the owners continue to create new dishes and welcome all walks of people into the restaurant. With Naena handling the business in the kitchen, and Dajuan as the enforcer elsewhere, the two continuously make the perfect pair.

The two balance their roles, by simply knowing their talents. “My wife got the cooking down pact,” Dajuan shares, “I’m more the business side of it … but my wife, she’s a superstar.”

Employing nearly 12 people from the local area, The Soul Food shack looks to help build the community city by city. With goals of expanding to Inglewood, as that is where Dajuan is from, Compton, South Bay, Hollywood, and The Inland Empire.

Exterior and signage (Saybin Roberson/ L.A. Sentunel)

“I always wanted to feed the community, feed my people” Dajuan says. “This is one of my dreams to have a diner … it’s generational, to the point where when you walk in everybody knows you by name.”

The two are truly living by their word. Claiming to know nearly everyone who walks in the door,  even knowing what they are going to order ahead of time. Their welcoming spirit and great food sets them apart and keeps their business in the fast lane for expansion. Believing in the culture and food they create, he also shares how they wish to go beyond California, having franchises in Texas, Florida, Arizona, and Vegas.

“Food is delicious, and we don’t have anywhere to eat anymore. This food is like you came from home,” he expressed. Furthermore, how so much can be accomplished over a great meal.

“Everything is over a meal. From a big business meeting to a funeral. Food brings people together.” Continuing to include the purpose of Soul Food Shack, “I thought of making this diner to bring a lot of people together.”

Dajuan shares how outside of the community, Soul Food Shack will stand as a way to build generational wealth for their family. With their daughter doing hair at the beauty salon which she owns with her mother. And their son eventually taking the restaurant mobile with a food truck; the future is booming for the family.

“Once you get a vision for something the rest is downhill. Once you get the motivation and you get the vision for it, everything else goes smooth.”

Visit the Soul Food Shack in Gardena located at 1762 W El Segundo Blvd, Gardena, CA 90249, try some of their famous Koolaid and one of their delectable plates!

 

Categories: Business | Local | News | Restaurant
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