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CARMEL, Ind. — Last November, a pilot named Adam Belt and his friend, chef Dave Brown, sat down to dinner and wound up discussing the possibility of opening their own soul food restaurant. It was a dream that quickly turned into a reality when they opened House of Soul Cafe inside a gas station on the south side in February. 

Within an hour, hundreds of people had already lined up. And by the end of the month, they realized it was already time for a second location. 

Photo credit: House of Soul Cafe Facebook page

This time, House of Soul Cafe was headed to Hamilton County, to the former Porkopolis restaurant building at 9802 N. Michigan Road in Carmel. And the community couldn’t wait to line up for a plate at the grand opening in April. 

The summer diet can wait until tomorrow because we’re indulging in the ultimate cheat meal on this trip In Your Neighborhood.      

“Our idea was to take soul food to where it’s not common,” said co-owner David Brown. “So we wanted to go to places where soul food hasn’t touched.” 

It was an idea that paid off when they decided to open their second location in west Carmel. 

“Our very first day of opening, the mayor of Carmel came, Mayor Jim. And we had almost 500 people in the parking lot. We had live jazz and it was just another phenomenon,” he recalled.

Photo credit: House of Soul Cafe Facebook page

And since then, people have kept lining up for food with all the fixings at House of Soul Cafe. 

“We have pork chops. We have fried ribs… We’re the only one that has fried ribs here in the city,” Brown noted. “We have catfish, we have perch, and then we have our famous jumbo chicken wings.”

Photo credit: House of Soul Cafe Facebook page

The best seller is the new hot-chicken sandwich, seasoned with a secret blend of spices and fried, like almost everything on the menu. 

It’s pure comfort food: smothered in grease, heavy on flavor, and hearty in portion size. 

”Soul food is food cooked in love,” Brown said. “It’s no cut-backs in it… it’s got all of the sugars, it’s got all of the spices, all of the blend to make the flavor amazing so that’s our goal.”

Add on some mac and cheese, greens or yams because– at this point– the summer body diet is out the window in exchange for a soulful cheat meal.

Photo credit: House of Soul Cafe Facebook page

 “Wear your stretchy pants. Wear your dress ladies. Men wear your big boy pants because you’re gonna get some good food here at the House of Soul,” he advised.

And don’t forget to wear your dancing shoes because House of Soul Cafe knows know to get down with live music on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. 

“We call it Rehab Sundays from 7-10pm when we have DJ MaryJane come and it’s just good 90s fun music,” he noted. “You can come and dance, have a cocktail and just enjoy your Sunday evening experience.”

For Brown, it’s all about bringing on the best parts of yesteryear through culture and food.

Owners Chef Dave Brown and Adam Belt (Photo credit: House of Soul Cafe Facebook page)

“One of the greatest things about the early 60s and 70s is that families had the opportunity to eat at one dinner table and share food together and be able to enjoy music together,” he said. “Our goal is to continue to put smiles on people’s faces and allow people to see what that good cooking really feels like and what the culture of family-like atmosphere is really all about.”

Four Things You Need to Know About House of Soul Cafe:     

  • The first House of Soul Café location opened February 2021 inside a gas station at 4225 S. East Street on the city’s south side. “Within one hour, we went viral and had 300 people in the parking lot ready to get this soul food,” recalled chef and co-owner David Brown. Within a month, it was clear that they needed to open a second location. In April, they officially opened their new location in west Carmel and it was another instant hit, with around 500 people lined up on opening day.
  • Some of their most popular menu items include their new hot chicken sandwich, fried ribs, jumbo chicken wings, perch and catfish. Other favorites include yams, greens, mac and cheese, strawberry lemonade cake and even Kool-Aid. They are also introducing some new vegan options, like a cauliflower version of their hot chicken sandwich and a plant-based meatloaf. “We hear our vegan people that come in…saying, ‘You need to have some items for us,’ so we’re working on vegan and vegetarian meals as well in the soul industry,” said Brown.
  • The portions at House of Soul are hearty. However, if you’re looking to feed a group, they offer catering as well as family meals for 4 or 9 people. You’ll also notice a drive-through, which is dedicated to pick-up orders.
  • In the future, Brown says they are already looking at expanding to more locations around the city including the possibility of a more upscale version of the restaurant in downtown Carmel. 

For more information about House of Soul Cafe, check out their website by clicking here. To see more photos and reviews by local Yelpers, check out the shop’s Yelp page. You can also connect on social media via Facebook and Instagram.

While in west Carmel, check out these other popular local businesses: