Photography by Kathy Tran.

Family legacy inspired Kevin Winston to open a soul-food restaurant named for his two sons, Kendall and Karsen, who are 16 and 10, respectively.

“I wanted to leave them a lineage,” he says. “Something to pass down.”

The 46-year-old Roosevelt High School graduate has a doctorate in health administration and spent decades in the corporate world, most recently in upper management at Ready Ice.

The time was right to pursue his longtime dream of owning a restaurant based on his family’s recipes, and he opened Kendall Karsen’s Upscale Soul Food in the Golden Triangle shopping center last summer.


Owner Kevin Winston made the restaurant’s tables himself, and he branded them with the names of family members, bible verses and other clues about his life.

The main inspiration is Louberta Johnson, Winston’s grandmother, who rose at 4 a.m. on Sundays to cook for her church, Church of Christ at Dallas on Fordham Road. Known in the neighborhood as “Aunt Lou,” she also volunteered at the Dallas VA Medical Center. Winston credits her for teaching him and her other grandchildren to cook.

“She always had us in the kitchen with her,” he says.

Photography by Kathy Tran.

Many of the recipes at Kendall Karsen’s come from her, and Winston even went to the trouble of getting a phone number for the store ending in 2171, the same number Johnson had predating numerical exchanges.

There are also contributions from his mom, Josie, and his wife’s mom, Cora, as well as his own recipes, which he started perfecting in college, cooking for his friends at Texas A&M University.

Winston adapted the original recipes to make them a little heart healthier. He cooks with olive oil, with no lard or butter, for example.

The menu is simple — ribs, chicken and dressing, fish fillets (fried or Cajun), pot roast, chicken tetrazzini and liver and onions with a choice of two sides. You already know: greens, beans, cabbage, candied yams, mac and cheese, gumbo, etc., plus rolls and cornbread and house-made desserts.

The best thing about his career change, Winston says, is that his food makes people happy.

“I wanted to do something that brings me joy, and this restaurant has done that,” he says.

Kendall Karsen’s Upscale Soul Food

3939 S. Polk St., suite 305


Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday

11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday

closed Monday and Tuesday