Brothers launching new soul food restaurant inspired by family and unity

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: October 01, 2020 08:04 AM

A new restaurant in Duluth inspired by decades of family recipes, soul, and love is in the works. Stephan and Solomon Witherspoon are the master chefs behind it. The two are well-known for the activism they do for the black community and hope this new project will diversify Duluth and inspire change.


The Witherspoon brothers said they are very excited about opening a new restaurant in Duluth and hope to inspire more inclusivity and diversity by bringing people together with food. Stephan and Solomon said they feel right at home in a kitchen. It's their happy place.

"It's not a job for us, this is fun," said Stephan Witherspoon.

The recipes were passed down by their father who ran a restaurant in Duluth back in the 70's. It’s a family legacy the brothers want to pass on.

"This has been literally our soul and who we are. We’ve been cooking for our whole life. This is four decades worth of just love, soul and heart and family," said Solomon Witherspoon.

Their mission is to bring unity through good eats. The restaurant is called Doc Witherspoon's Soul Food Kitchen. It's named in memory of their father, The late Reverend Sylvester Witherspoon, who's nickname was Doc.

"We want to pay it forward. We want more businesses here in Duluth and more food businesses. We also want to support black businesses as well and more people of color having a business in Duluth and it's about time," said Stephan.

It’s a new project that OMC Smokehouse owner Tom Hanson is guiding them through.

"Our goal is to see that they get over the financial hurdles and roadblocks that happen when you're trying to open a business and really making all the connections that we've had in the last few years and passing it on," said Hanson.

"Tom is a true leader and leaders lead. He stepped up on our behalf and in the future we will do the same thing, pay back forward," said Solomon.

"We've looking to contribute to this project so that Duluth can become a city of diversity, a city of inclusiveness, a city for all citizens of Duluth and represented through our business community," said Hanson.

The Witherspoon brothers are hosting a pop-up fundraiser for the restaurant this weekend where they’ll be selling delicious family meals.

"We'll have a corn bread dressing, fried chicken, mac and cheese, we will have sweet potato pie," said Stephan.

"A wise man once said closed mouths don't get fed. What we want to do is not only bring people to the table with us but we're asking literally the City of Duluth for their support and all the other surrounding cities because financially it's a lot of money to start something like this. We're asking for help and to come get a nice big ol belly full of some delicious soul food from the soul," said Solomon.

The brothers said they look forward to sharing something so meaningful with their father's flavor to it. They finished each other's sentences as they remembered a valuable lesson their father gave them growing up.

"There's a saying that he said, if a task has once begun, never leave it until its done, be it labor great or small, do it well or not at all," said Stephan and Solomon.

The pop-up fundraiser for the restaurant will be hosted at Peace United Church of Christ in Duluth at 1111 N 11th Ave E from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The brothers anticipate the restaurant opening in early 2021 in the Lincoln Park Craft District.

Click here to follow the Facebook page of the restaurant to get the latest updates. You can also learn more on the website and preorder food for the fundraiser happening Sunday. 


Alejandra Palacios

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