Fond du Lac woman overcomes adversity and opens soulfood restaurant to honor mother

From the Local 5 Digital Desk

FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WFRV) – One Fond du Lac woman is bringing a taste of her childhood to the community.

Arletta Allen, of Fond du Lac, grew up in Mississippi and she tells Local 5 it wasn’t easy.

“I came from food stamps. I came from housing authority, living on vouchers. I came from all of that, but my mom and her strength drove me to believe that anything was possible”, says Allen.

Family to Allen is something that’s always been important to her. She speaks highly of her mother, Linda, and how her strength growing up made everything seem possible.

Allen became the first person in her family to graduate college and to own a home. That ambition instilled in her body stems from her mother.

“When you start to think about relationships and think about the relationship you have with your parents, ultimately, it turns into what legacy they leave behind and what did their children become to represent them long after they’re gone?”, Allen explains.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country last year, Allen needed a change of scenery. After being a motivational speaker for many years and traveling, she never imagined what life would be without speaking into large crowds. After putting thought into it, it led to her passion of cooking and she opened up a restaurant, ‘A Family Affair Soulfood Kitchen’.

“I found out that I couldn’t wait until the pandemic was over. I needed to figure out what I was going to do right now”, says Allen.

‘A Family Affair Soulfood Kitchen’ offers authentic southern style home cooking. Every recipe that Allen uses at the restaurant is her mother, Linda’s, recipes. Although Linda can’t be in the restaurant helping her family, due to health reasons, she’s always been just a call away.

“I messed up a recipe all together but my momma got me straight. She sat there on the phone with me for about an hour and a half and walked me through, step-by-step, how to get those pies together”, says Allen. “When I tell you those pies were perfect, they were everything I grew up on as a kid and more.”

Arletta and her business partner, Troy, wants every customer that walks through the doors of ‘A Family Affair Soulfood Kitchen’ to feel like they’re at home. So, they started taking pictures of their customers enjoying the food and hanging them up around the restaurant.

“Our tag line is ‘Come on in and have a seat. The place where everyone is family’. We really mean that. With Troy’s concept of wanting to take pictures of the customers as they come in, you know how you go into individual’s homes and you go to their houses, there’s family pictures on the walls. So, when they come in here it’s the same concept. That they’ll see their pictures on the wall because you know when you come in here, you’re family”, Allen explains.

‘A Family Affair Soulfood Kitchen’ means everything to Arletta and her family because it all ties back to her mother, Linda.

“This is her legacy. This means something to our family because it means everything to her”, Allen explains.

Allen tells Local 5 that she feels like Fond du Lac was lacking in the taste and selection of food choices in the area so opening the restaurant was a step in the right direction. The support from the community has been overwhelming since opening doors just over a month ago.

One of the favorites that flies out the doors is brisket. Allen tells Local 5 that it’s a 14-16 hour cooking process so they can only have it limited days which means it goes fast. Other favorites include ribs, corn bread, collard greens, homestyle mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, pound cake, peach cobbler, banana pudding, and more.

‘A Family Affair Soulfood Kitchen’ is located on 417 South Main Street in Fond du Lac. To view their menu or to learn more, visit their website or Facebook.

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