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Food & Drink

After Loss of Lease, Wendy’s House of Soul Finds New North Side Home

Don't worry: The sandwiches, wings, and fresh-rolled SOULROLLS aren't going anywhere.

left: wendy puckett holds a plate of food. right: an overhead shot of several sandwiches on black and white checker paper.
Instagram: @youvebeensouled

In December, Wendy Puckett got the news no one ever wants from their landlord: He was opting not to renew their lease. December 28 was the last day for the chef and her restaurant, Wendy’s House of Soul, at 1825 Glenwood Ave., where she landed in 2020 after a tumultuous few years. (More on that shortly.)

“I have to say, I was sad about the whole situation,” says Puckett, whose soul food spot initially launched out of a shared space at K’s Grocery and Deli (1021 W Broadway Ave. N.). “It makes me emotional, because that wasn’t the plan. But sometimes we’re dealt another hand of cards, and we have to be able to play them another way.”

Puckett knows all too well how to make the best of a bad hand. In 2020, she was working to buy the Broadway Avenue building she shared with K’s, when she was told she’d actually lost the lease instead. The year prior, the chef needed surgery after she was shot in the face with a pellet gun leaving work—an act of violence that forced her to close up shop during Thanksgiving, typically her busiest time of the year.

Now, just two years after the most recent move, Puckett found herself in need of a new space once more. There was just one thing she knew for certain: “I wanted to stay committed to staying on the North Side if possible.”

Luckily, she’d already been thinking about future pop-ups and collaborations, hoping to step outside her comfort zone this year while networking with other small businesses, chefs, cooks, and creatives. One such connection was with another North Side fixture: Sammy McDowell of Sammy’s Avenue Eatery. And with his help, she found a new home for Wendy’s House of Soul, which will re-open inside North Market (4414 Humboldt Ave. N., Minneapolis) on Monday, January 16.

The new spot is set up like a deli, so Puckett will have hot and cold grab-and-go items at the ready for folks in a hurry. But don’t worry: The sandwiches, wings, and fresh-rolled SOULROLLS—those big, egg roll-wrapped creations that come stuffed with everything from greens and mac and cheese to cheeseburger and fries—aren’t going anywhere. (In fact, look out for a new Humboldt special that’ll debut come Monday.)

Hours will be slightly expanded; catering remains available seven days a week. And like Wendy’s House of Soul’s previous location in Harrison, North Market is bright and vibrant and full of color. OK, not as colorful as the old spot—no spray-painted flowers or houses or cars on the walls here—though Puckett says they were actually able to preserve some of that art, which her son painted on peel-and-stick wallpaper.

“My goal is to actually have my own restaurant again, so those pictures and those memories—what we were able to save—will definitely be part of a mural somewhere in the future,” she says.

if the last few years haven’t been an indication of Puckett’s resiliency, this most recent move has been. “To move in a Minnesota winter, making the move we had to make in the snow that we had… once we were done it was like, ‘OK, we’re gonna make it,'” she chuckles. “The passion is still there—I haven’t lost that.” She hopes her loyal customers from the Harrison neighborhood will follow her to Camden, and that people in her new neck of the woods will be excited to try something new.

“The love and the soul hasn’t changed,” she adds, “just the location.”

Wendy’s House of Soul
4414 Humboldt Ave. N., Minneapolis
Opens January 16