Leola Daul is the Founder of the first community café in North Dakota, Heart-n-Soul Community Café. The Heart-n-Soul Community Café originated from a love of finding the best in people, in the community, and great local food.
“I was the first in my family to attend college and if it wasn’t for my mom’s strong encouragement of my dad I’m not sure that would have happened. After graduation, I moved to the Twin Cities and worked there for five years in the field of Childcare before returning to Fargo. My friends said they always knew I would move back to Fargo and I guess in my heart I knew I would as well.”
About Heart-N-Soul Community Cafe
Heart-N-Soul Community Cafe, founded by Leola Daul, is committed to addressing food insecurities, building communities and providing delicious food to nurture the body, heart and soul. They are a nonprofit social entrepreneurship that serves locally grown fresh food and operates under a pay-what-you-can model. Heart-N-Soul Community Cafe values a place where everyone is welcome and works to provide creative payment solutions for all.
Tell us about Heart-N-Soul Community Cafe and your mission.
“We serve everyone in our community, The guests eating at Heart-n-Soul Community Cafe are all welcome no matter their economic status. Everyone is at the community cafe for a different reason, some of our guests are in need of a meal, some of our guests are looking to be a part of the cafe making new connections with community members, some guests want to help a neighbor in need and pay it forward . It is important that we serve as much local fresh food as we can and that everyone is served with dignity and respect. We welcome volunteer cooks and chefs to share their favorite meals and get creative. It is really a rewarding and fun experience for everyone involved. We also have volunteer servers and greeters at the mobile cafe and at our winter indoor cafes. Our Friday sack lunches fill a gap of the need of a weekend meal for community members who need a meal to get them through the weekend. We partner with many agencies to make this happen each week and also have amazing volunteers.”
What are your entrepreneurial highs and lows?
“I have to say the high point was hosting our first Community Cafe in June of 2016. It was the culmination of a variety of pieces falling into place. I attended a One World Everybody Eats Summit, which is a yearly gathering of Community Cafes earlier in 2016 and I had completed a Folkways Start Up series that year as well and presented the idea of starting a Community Cafe. At the end of the Folkways Start Up Series we were given the challenge to execute our idea. Well, I took the challenge! It was certainly serendipitous that I met Tracy Walvatne and her family who owned Josie Corner Cafe at the time and that they offered a space for us to pop up on Sundays and that a group of NDSU students who were in the dietetics program came together to prepare the meal. I had talked about the idea with community members and friends for over a year. We had a great turn out at that first Cafe and that started our run with pop ups at local underutilized kitchens in the FM area.
A definite low point was when the pandemic started in March of 2020. We had big plans to reach community members in need and had some great agencies and groups we were going to partner with in 2020. During that low point though we found new opportunities. We identified a new need in our community for weekend meals and we also had the opportunity to purchase a food trailer. The low point turned into a high point and we were able to fill a need in the community which we continue to do today. We are starting our third year of weekend meals and our second full year with our food trailer.”
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned throughout your entrepreneurial journey?
“I’ve learned it is important to be patient and listen to feedback . Most of those who give feedback have the best interest of the Cafe and those we are serving in mind. Over the years I’ve received feedback from members of the community, different agencies, volunteers, patrons and even family and friends. Most of the feedback regarding the Cafe is positive and of course there has also been some negative, I try to learn from the negative comments and do what we can to make any improvements to the Cafe experience. ”
“Some of the best feedback I received was after our first meal in 2016. I was having supper with my Dad the evening after the meal. He told me it was a very good meal and event but he said it was missing one thing. He said, “You need to have dessert”. I thought about it for a few minutes and I said, “You’re right! Dessert is important, it shows you care and it encourages more conversation”. My dad passed away last November, he was a huge supporter of Heart and Soul and left his legacy in dessert!”
Heart-N-Soul Community Cafe is officially a part of the Fargo-Moorhead founder family. How can our community support you in your next stage of growth?
“We are always looking for volunteers to help serve at meals that we hold throughout the year. These events are held at various locations around town and volunteers are trained on the spot the only requirement is a willingness to interact with others. We are also looking for sponsorships for our Mobile Cafe meals and our weekend meals. This involves funding a meal or month of our lunches and/or having volunteers join us from your organization!
We love to share on social media who is volunteering and supporting Heart-n-Soul Community Café. We offer catering services for small events and are always looking for events to serve. If you know of any organizations interested in hiring us for an event please have them contact us. It’s a great way to support our mission and have a delicious meal. And financial donations are always welcome. We are currently working to raise funds to purchase a pick up to pull our food trailer. Check us out and many other amazing nonprofits on Giving Hearts Day February 9th! Please follow us on social media and enjoy a meal with us!”