Daniel’s Caribbean Kitchen Plants Brick-and-Mortar Roots in Oakland
The tale of Daniel’s Caribbean Kitchen is the food love story we so desperately need.
It seems each week brings another reason to mourn around the Bay Area. Losses of longstanding restaurants, bars, thrift stores, book shops, etc. come in rapid succession on either side of the bridge—one after another, after another… As we walk our beaten paths, passing by newly renovated storefronts offering edgy art bars and ridiculously priced slow drip coffee, our stomachs growl with memories of the real food, cooked by real people that once was. It’s gotten to the sad point where headlines are almost template:
“(ENTER NAME HERE) Has Closed for Good Due To (ENTER SAME TIRED LANGUAGE ABOUT GENTRIFICATION)”
But in a sea of shuddering doors and generic takeovers, Daniel’s Caribbean Kitchen is a shining light of old school love and a story of delicious success. Not only are Stephen and Jamila Daniel surviving the game, but the father and daughter Trinidadian grub magicians are thriving and setting down roots.
Stephen set up shop out of a cart at Center Street and Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley back in the late 1980’s. Jamila started helping her dad serve up dalpuri roti at the ripe age of 10 and she’s now poised to take over as the cart operation that has fed hungry flea and farmer’s market folks for decades settles into a brick-and-mortar permanent home.
Although the cart will keep rolling at the Ashby Flea Market and Berkeley farmer’s market on weekends, they look forward to satisfying Caribbean cravings from a new solid home in West Oakland, made possible with a Kiva loan that met its goal in less than half the expected time.
As Jamila told Berkeleyside, the 2608 Market Street location for the soon-to-open eatery was an “easy and deliberate choice.”
“It has a rich history and we liked the idea of being a black-owned business returning to West Oakland.”
The business model they’ve worked out for the new spot is a unique blend of traditional street food service and modern technology. Customers will order and pay for food through apps like GrubHub, DoorDash and Caviar and simply pick up the goods through a window, allowing service to be fast without sacrificing quality and reducing risks that come with keeping cash on hand.
The brick-and-mortar spot is nearly ready to go, with just one more round of permitting to get through before Stephen and Jamila roll up the window and start rolling out the roti dough in their new Oakland home.