Some people make New Year’s resolutions. And some people, like Brandon Campbell, take on new ventures in the new year.
In late January, Campbell — along with his wife, Samantha, and younger brother Angelo Baker — opened SoulGood Southern Diner on the southwest side of Cedar Rapids.
“SoulGood is simply inspired by decades of family recipes, soul, and the love put into preparing traditional African American and Asian cuisine dishes,” said Campbell of his new restaurant.
Campbell said he and his wife — with her Asian American background — have brought their ethnic dishes to family gatherings such as Thanksgiving or Chinese New Year celebrations for years.
“We were amazed how these completely different, unique foods were always a ‘hit’ and conversation starter during these types of intimate family events,” Campbell said.
So when the planning stages for their own restaurant took off, this soul food — fried chicken and fish, cornbread dressing, sweet potatoes, egg rolls and crab rangoon — so familiar to Campbell and his family, seemed like the makings of a tasty menu.
“It is exciting just being able to bring more inclusivity and diversity with food to our community,” said Campbell. “I feel we have established a family-oriented atmosphere that our community will love and appreciate.”
The restaurant industry is not new to Campbell.
“My parents used to own a similar style restaurant in our hometown of Lovejoy, Illinois,” he said. “I remember as a kid helping around the restaurant, which I enjoyed. My mother, Valerie, has taught us all the recipes in the SoulGood kitchen.”
Now Campbell — who moved to the Cedar Rapids area as a teen — is creating those types of memories with his own family. “My favorite part of owning a restaurant is being able to see and work with my family each day,” he said. “It’s been a learning process that has indeed brought us closer as a unit.”
Since opening SoulGood just about a month ago, Campbell said catfish, collard greens and mac and cheese have emerged as customer favorites.
“And our daily specials are driven from the meals I grew up eating, like meatloaf, baked chicken and my favorite, beef short ribs,” he said.
Currently, SoulGood is open for dine-in and carryout, with COVID-19 guidelines being enforced. They will begin offering delivery options soon as well.
“In the era of COVID-19, it has most definitely made it more challenging to take a risk in opening and ensure we adhere to state and local guidelines to protect our customers, community and family,” said Campbell. “This epidemic is something we do not take lightly as it challenges us to be intentional and conscious of our interactions as a family and with our customers. Nevertheless, I have learned from living in Cedar Rapids that when we come together during difficult times, love, perseverance and unity help navigate any problem or issue. It is our happy place and where we call home.”
If you go
• What: SoulGood Southern Diner
• Where: 3100 Sixth St. SW, Cedar Rapids
• Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday
• Contact: (319) 200-4560
• Details: soulgoodcr.com