Family-owned Trinidadian food cart reopens in Berkeley

Sunny Shen/Staff

Related Posts

Berkeley’s staple father-and-daughter Trinidadian food cart, Daniel’s Caribbean Kitchen, has reopened after a two-year hiatus and will be establishing a brick-and-mortar location in West Oakland soon, as first reported by Berkeleyside.

According to Berkeleyside, owner Stephen Daniel along with daughter and business manager Jamila Daniel will continue to operate Daniel’s Caribbean Kitchen at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market and the Berkeley Flea Market. But, without a permanent location, they have been unable to hold steady hours or grow their business.

After opening in the 1980s, the food cart has garnered loyal supporters. Stephen Daniel and Jamila Daniel reached their loan goal on Kiva, an online loan collection platform, of $8,000 in December 2018 to pay for the necessary permits, equipment and additional staff to open at 2608 Market St. in West Oakland.

“Thank you D.C.K. Family and supporters!” the company posted on Facebook. “We are so grateful to you, our community for your unwavering support! We are coming back better than ever!”

The Daniel’s Caribbean Kitchen storefront is awaiting final rounds of permitting, but Stephen and Jamila Daniel will soon be ready to open, according to Berkeleyside. The new location will eventually include customer seating but will run as a takeout window, preserving the spirit of the street cart kitchen. In order to provide speedy service without compromising the quality of food, the Daniels have eliminated walk-up sales, and customers must instead order through partner delivery services such as Caviar, DoorDash and GrubHub to pick up their orders, according to Berkeleyside.

Daniel’s Caribbean Kitchen is also officially vegan-friendly and now offers a vegan and organic menu.

The company has developed a strong customer base and is a Berkeley favorite, often receiving praise for its authentic Trinidadian cuisine.

“This food is fantastic, but the owner and family are even more fantastic … you will not be disappointed trust me,” customer Shawntrice Taliaferro posted on Facebook.

According to its Kiva page, Daniel’s Caribbean Kitchen helped introduce Trinidadian-style dalpuri roti to the Bay Area. The Daniels dalpuri roti is a circular seasoned flatbread roll stuffed with curry potatoes, carrots and chickpeas, with a choice of chicken, shrimp or fish added on top, according to Berkeleyside.

On Kiva, Jamila Daniel recounted her experience growing up in her father’s kitchen. She remembers “the smell of curry” and the sound of her father’s “marble rolling pin hitting the butcher block … while he made roti” as she worked with her father at 10 years old.

During their two-year break, the two reflected on goals for the business and decided that Jamila will soon transition to the owner of the business, while Stephen will take on a more supportive role, according to Berkeleyside.

“Now that we have our new space and are ready to expand to new markets, I am looking forward to successfully growing Daniel’s Caribbean Kitchen and continuing my father’s legacy,” Jamila Daniel posted on Kiva.

Contact Emily Hom at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @hom_emily.