South LA

The soul food gem of Inglewood

Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen has been whipping up good eats from oxtails to fried okra for 23 years.

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Fried chicken, check. Macaroni and cheese, check. Sweet potato pie? You have to try this place.

Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen has been serving the Inglewood community since 1999. The counter-service restaurant known for their baked chicken, collard greens and candied yams is a quick stop for those looking for good Southern cooking.

The restaurant emerged when the Dulan family moved to Luther, Oklahoma and staked a claim on a piece of land which served as the family footprint. The Dulans used this land as a place to grow their family, while they learned to cook from their grandmother.

Adolf Dulan, the late founder of the restaurant, first began to experiment with food after his mother underwent an accident that left her unable to cook. He learned to make fried chicken and all the fixins; the lessons he learned laid the foundation for the soul food empire Southern California knows today.

After graduating from Langston University and working various jobs including the Army, U.S. Postal Service and social work, Dulan turned to entrepreneurship with the goal of sending all four of his children to university.

In 1975, Dulan invested his personal savings into opening an Orange Julius in South Los Angeles. After tasting success with his first business, he began opening several restaurants including launching the first Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen after a visit to New York City where he witnessed the success of cafeteria-style restaurants.

“This little business on this corner has served just about everybody,” said current restaurant owner and son of Dulan, Terry Dulan.

In addition to serving the Inglewood community, Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen has prepared food for a plethora of celebrities. The restaurant has fed household names like Magic Johnson and Denzel Washington, and even catered meals to the Air Force.

“One time I was picking up food and asked ‘where are you taking it to?’ They were taking it to Drake,” Terry said.

Terry attributes the business’ success to its intense preparation process.

“My father’s formula was to provide great food, high quality food and a lot of it,” he said. “At 7 in the morning I have guys who are peeling potatoes, chopping greens, cracking eggs.”

In its 23-year run, the restaurant has survived many obstacles.

“We’re still here through the financial crisis, through the pandemic, all sorts of ups and downs in the economy,” Terry said. “We have managed to survive all these years.”

Over the years, the Inglewood community has come together to support the restaurant.

Inglewood resident Albert Draper has been a regular at Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen for several years. The smothered pork chops paired with a side of macaroni and cheese along with candied yams keep him coming back, he said. It’s more than the food that inspires Draper to support the town staple.

“It’s a Black-owned business and they serve the community,” Draper said. “They’ve been here for a long time. So I think it’s very important that we support the Black community.”

Naah Harriton has been to Dulan’s on Crenshaw, but recently first tried the original location in Inglewood. Harriton is from the East Coast and said the restaurant offers food options such as fried okra and oxtails that are difficult to find elsewhere.

“It’s the only special thing I could find that is going to give me soul food,” Harriton said. “I really love traditional soul food and it’s really hard to find. So this place for sure will have all the staples taste correctly.”

As the Inglewood community continues to expand business ventures with SoFi Stadium and the upcoming Clippers stadium, Terry highlighted the importance of supporting local businesses and mom-and-pop shops to maintain the integrity of the city.

“We’re starting to see signs of a renaissance of a comeback,” Terry said. “Inglewood is going to go through a change and I’m sensitive to that. And you know, it’s almost like a mixed blessing.”

Terry has made changes to the dining at his restaurant to accommodate the new developments in Inglewood.

In addition to a spacious dining room, the restaurant now provides an event room that can be rented out for parties. But as the economy returns back to normal, Dulan’s restaurant faces a new obstacle: the future.

As a second-generation business, the Dulan family plans to keep the restaurant in its ownership for generations to come. “We have to lay the foundation to make sure that the business operates smoothly in order to do that.”

Terry’s main goal is to keep his father’s legacy alive through the act of giving.

“A lot of people thought he gave away too much,” Terry said. “But he said it will all come back to you if you give, and it worked for him.”

In light of his father’s passing, Terry and the restaurant have “given extensively” to the Boys Scouts of America, breast cancer awareness organizations and provided two scholarships of roughly $15,000 to the Jack and Jill of America, Inc. The restaurant has provided jobs to over 2,000 employees throughout the years, according to Terry.

As Inglewood expands, Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen plans to continue providing community support and good food in a family-focused atmosphere.