For Darrell and Celena Randle, food is an extension of their compassionate hearts, allowing them to infuse their personalities and beliefs into everything they cook. Thanks to the opening of their restaurant Daran’s Southern Soul Food & West Indian Cuisine, the entire Fargo/Moorhead area is able to enjoy their passion.
Darrell and Celena Randle moved to Fargo with their three children (their fourth was born last year) in 2011. Darrell, born and raised in Miami, and Celena, originally from Brooklyn, have always shared a deep connection to food. Whether cooking for their children or enjoying a meal with family and friends, their food has always been a labor of love and a way to express their deep appreciation and gratitude for everything around them. In order to bring that spark to a wider audience, the Randles decided to open their own restaurant.
When the Randles moved to Fargo, they could sense that something was missing: There were no restaurants that served authentic soul food or West Indian Cuisine. As the Randles began building a home for their family in the Midwest, they longed for the tastes of home. Together, the couple decided to change that. “The desire to open this restaurant here was to bring the cultural flavors and foods we were accustomed to with us to our new home,” Darrell explained.
The Randles believe in the power of family. (The name “Daran’s” is made with the first initials of the Randle children’s first names.) Celena’s family is from Guyana and North Carolina, while Darrell’s hails from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Daran’s is their way of paying homage to that history and the way it has shaped their lives. Some of their dishes include secret family recipes, while others are born out of a culture we may all share.
Daran’s features flavor combinations unlike anything else available in the Fargo/Moorhead area. The passion and TLC behind every dish is transformative. “Visitors can expect to have a meal that will taste like someone invited them over for dinner,” Darrell said. “The food is made with a lot of love, time, and maximum effort.”
Darrell and Celena also put a lot of thought into the creation of the perfect environment for their food. “The atmosphere is filled with music. You’ll hear some classic southern blues, reggae, Soca, and dancehall music,” Darrell said. “The décor is something of a homelike feel, with a modern Randle twist.”
Darrell hopes that Daran’s not only provides Southern transplants with a touch of home, but also helps locals expand both their palettes and their understanding of unfamiliar cultures. He invites everyone to step out of their comfort zones. “Soul food is comfort food, and in today’s world, where there is so much hatred, violence, and financial difficulties, we can all use more comforting, and in this case, comfort food,” he explained. “It takes you to your happy place and gives you the feeling that makes your problems seem a little smaller, the light in your life a little brighter. What you are left with is a satisfying ‘everything’s gonna be alright’ type of feel.”
Daran’s Southern Soul Food & West Indian Cuisine is located at 30 N University Drive in Fargo. More information about the restaurant, including a full menu, can be obtained at daransfargo.com.
By Jamee Larson