Adolf Dulan, Aunt Kizzy’s, Soul Food Kitchen founder, dies
Aunt Kizzy’s clientele included after church Sunday parishioners, politicians, professional athletes, supermodels, and entertainment celebrities
Aunt Kizzy’s Back Porch was Adolf Dulan’s first successful sit-down southern cuisine restaurant in Marina Del Rey, Calif.
Successful southern cooking master’s restaurant career spanned 40 years
LOS ANGELES — Culinary master Adolf A. Dulan, who earned riches serving classic southern food at Aunt Kizzy’s Back Porch in Marina Del Rey, Calif., and later, Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen in Inglewood, Calif., has died.
At press time, a spokesperson for the family was unavailable for comment or funeral arrangements.
Dulan began learning to cook on a farm in Luther, Okla., while working next to his mother as she made the family’s meals. Watching his mother, he learned to prepare her beloved farm raised fried chicken, fresh collard greens, and numerous other tasty dishes. These informal lessons laid the foundation for what would one day become a soul food empire.
Before engulfing on that culinary mission, Dulan would graduate from Langston University, serve in the army, work for the U.S. Postal Service, and serve families in Los Angeles County as a social worker. Just as his mother’s lessons in the kitchen motivated him to cook, his love for his children and the realization that he would have three children in college at once, motivated him to enter the restaurant business.
In 1975, he left his job with the county and invested his personal savings in an Orange Julius fruit drink beverage franchise in South Los Angeles. This was the beginning of his successful career in the restaurant business.
Dulan deeply believed in the power of perseverance and dogged determined to achieve his goals and was willing to explore a variety of avenues that helped him succeed. In 1977, he parlayed the Orange Julius franchise into a neighborhood family run restaurant he named Hamburger City. The burger joint quickly became a popular local spot for hungry late night party-goers. By 1978, the eatery was flourishing and Dulan opened a second location. Four years later, there were five Hamburger City diners in Los Angeles with the fifth location opening in affluent Marina Del Rey.
The Marina Del Rey outgrew the original location and was relocated to a larger facility in the same shopping center in 1985 and gave rise to Aunt Kizzy’s Back Porch, specializing in southern-style cooking. It wasn’t long before Aunt Kizzy’s Back Porch gained national recognition.
The brand achieved such prominence, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt aligned itself commercially with the eatery, Dulan went on to star in a national commercial for the brand, and his face became highly recognizable. As word spread about Aunt Kizzy’s cuisine, the name became synonymous with excellent food and good times.
Aunt Kizzy’s clientele popularly included after church Sunday parishioners, politicians, professional athletes, supermodels, and entertainment celebrities.
During a 1999 visit to New York City, Adolf Dulan noticed a proliferation of cafeteria-style restaurants, there and returned to Los Angeles with an idea and a mission. Later that year he opening Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen in Inglewood at Manchester Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, then several years later, a second Inglewood location on Century Boulevard.
A writer asked Dulan the recipe for the success of his restaurants. He looked around the diner on Manchester Boulevard, focused on two female patrons he said had been regular customers twice weekly since it opened, smiled and said:
“Give the customer what they want. No shortcuts. No substitutes for the best ingredients. Just give them what they want.”