Louisiana native brings Cajun soul to Arlington at Damian’s Cajun Soul Cafe


Vanessa Johnson

The taste and smell of authentic Cajun food can be found at Damian’s Cajun Soul Cafe in Arlington, Texas. Damian Placide, the owner and chef, is pictured here inside his restaurant.

Vanessa Johnson, Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas–Damian Placide said that becoming a father led him to embarking on a culinary career.

“When he came into the world, that is when I found out that cooking was my calling,” Placide said of the birth of his son.

Placide, the owner and the chef of Damian’s Cajun Soul Café, said that when his wife, who was his girlfriend at the time, became pregnant with their son, he took a job as a cook on an oil rig to support his growing family. He said he found it to be an exciting experience, one that set a course for his career.

“When you find out what you were meant to do, you never work a day in your life,” Placide said. “It’s like going to the playground.”

Placide opened his restaurant in 2008 and named it after his son, who was named after him. While he has since moved locations, he said his first location—which he described as a hole in the wall—was perfect for starting out. He managed to secure a building after he saved tips from his job at General Motors and profits from the catering work he did during his off time.

“I didn’t have a Plan B,” he said. “This was going to work.”

Placide, who is from New Iberia, Louisiana, moved to Texas in 2001 and found employment as a chef in the General Motors cafeteria. He said that opening a restaurant was always his dream, so he never planned for an alternative. After seven years of working with General Motors, he was finally able to achieve his dream.

“The idea behind this restaurant is that I wanted to express the way I felt about food,” Placide said.

At the age of 6, Placide began to learn his way around the kitchen. He credits his knowledge of preparing and cooking Cajun cuisine to his mother. He said she made him prepare meals for himself because he was such a finicky eater. He also saw his mom manage and cook at her own restaurant, Brenda’s Diner in their hometown.

“I took her concept and brought it to Texas,” Placide said. “But it all started in New Iberia, Louisiana.”

Placide offers customers an authentic Cajun cuisine menu that involves an array of spices. He said that he uses some of his mom’s recipes but that he tweaks them to make them his own.

“Everything I prepare here is straight from the heart,” Placide said. “Not for the money but for the love of cooking.”

Placide said he wants customers to enjoy his food and to also feel like family and friends. He wanted to bring the southern hospitality from his hometown to his restaurant. Placide said his dedication to his customers is what keeps his restaurant going.

“I’m a little fish in the ocean with the big sharks, the big franchises,” he said.

While he might be an underdog, his hard work has gotten him recognized by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Food and Travel Magazine. He said aside from the written recognition of his restaurant, he owes his biggest achievement to his customers.

“The other accomplishment, I keep on living my dream and serving the good community of DFW,” Placide said.