Located a block away from Berkeley High School on Shattuck Avenue, Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen has been serving Southern flavors to Berkeley for 15 years, and in those years has never failed to deliver food or family.
“Angeline’s was founded by Scott Fearon and Robert Volberg in 2006,” said Tempe Minaga-Teves, co-owner and general manager of the restaurant. Despite the 20 people Angeline’s employs — and almost 60 pre-pandemic — Minaga-Teves has worked as part of the “accounting department, HR, operations, marketing, you name it,” for almost as long as the restaurant has been open. She keeps the restaurant running smoothly, and has led the team through an expansion process, as the restaurant almost doubled in size in 2011.
“Scott Fearon … is still our main investor and Robert, unfortunately, passed away in 2010,” said Minaga-Teves. However, the values that they shared are still evident in the cuisine and atmosphere of the restaurant today. Minaga-Teves explained, “Scott has always loved Cajun cuisine and it was his dream to open a successful Cajun restaurant. Robert was our opening manager and had a love for the food, hospitality, and music of Louisiana.”
That desire is reflected in Angeline’s menu offerings. “We specialize in Cajun and Creole food, with a touch of Southern food as well,” explained Minaga-Teves. House specialties include jambalaya, a sausage and seafood rice-based dish, voodoo shrimp, red beans and rice, and beignets. Angeline’s also offers its signature fried chicken, which is covered in ham gravy and served with a side of mashed sweet potatoes and green beans. Said Minaga-Teves, “[We] developed the menu to be just like what you’d be eating in Louisiana.”
In the founding of Angeline’s, there was a goal that Fearon and Volberg had above all else, one that is still held to this day by Minaga-Teves and her staff: that of creating a family and a place of welcome. “We are not in the business just to sell food,” said Minaga-Teves, as she discussed the changes COVID-19 has wrought on Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen. “For me, it’s important for us to create an environment for our employees and customers where they are valued and respected. We are like a family here.”
A family, sadly, that has been rent asunder by the ongoing pandemic. “Even though we have the same restaurant, same food, and same staff, things are wildly different now. We have had to reduce our staff significantly due to decreased business, as well as needing to distance our staff for safety,” said Minaga-Teves. “We miss celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and graduations, and we’re looking forward to being able to safely do that again.”
However, this is not the first difficulty Angeline’s has faced. “It’s kind of a miracle that we’re still here at all,” said Minaga-Teves on the subject. When Minaga-Teves was hired, it was in the middle of another disaster: despite the best efforts of Fearon and Volberg, the restaurant could barely stay afloat, as is true for many. “Fortunately, I was able to get things back on track and headed in the right direction,” she explained.
Two years later, Angeline’s would be hit with another crushing blow. With the passing of Robert Volberg, Angeline’s lost part of its soul. Said Minaga-Teves, “Anyone who had eaten at the restaurant during that time surely had met Robert.”
The restaurant went through another significant change when it nearly doubled in size in 2011, expanding into the open storefront next door. And, in 2016, Angeline’s head chef, Chef Brandon Dubea, decided to move on, just shy of the restaurant’s ten year anniversary. “We’ve tried very hard in the following years to make sure we stay true to his recipes and remain consistent for our customers,” said Minaga-Teves. They have certainly succeeded.