Barbara Devan has big plans.
In the next five years Devan plans to open a branch of Tasties, her soul food restaurant, in the five biggest cities in the United States. For now, though, Tasties is expanding to a University City food truck, which will open on 40th and Market streets in March.
Tasties already has locations in Germantown and West Philadelphia that serve Devan’s signature soul food.
Devan defines her soul food as “baked macaroni, … fried chicken, charbroiled salmon, chicken and waffles — southern food,” she said. “With our food, the flavor is just different.”
The food truck coming to University City will also serve chicken fingers and buffalo wings in addition to her soul food platters. The truck will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday and will be closed on Sundays.
When not in the kitchen, Devan uses her cooking skills to give back to the community. Every Wednesday, she donates food to feed 125 to 200 people on 48th Street next to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. On Thanksgiving last year, Devan closed her West Philadelphia Tasties for the day, instead providing free food to more than 300 people.
“We’re always looking for a way to give back,” Devan said.
For Devan, Tasties has always been a family business. She said that her passion for cooking began as a child, when she helped her mother and grandmother in the kitchen. Today, her sister and son join her in the Tasties kitchen.
“I know I’m their boss, but I don’t work like I’m their boss. I’m their co-worker and we all work together,” she said.
She stressed the importance of teaching her son her recipes so that he can carry Tasties into the future.
“[I’m] always teaching him every day,” she said. “This is something I want [him] to carry on when I’m no longer here, so you have to know your family business.”
Devan first opened Tasties in 2007, but closed the restaurant less than a year later. In 2012, she re-opened it as part of Jollies West on 38th Street and Lancaster Avenue and launched a food truck on 48th and Market streets. A year later, she opened the Tasties in West Philadelphia and has been successful ever since. In a year, Devan hopes to open a Tasties location inside the Philadelphia International Airport.
Devan attributed Tasties’ success to its superior food. “Our taste is going to take us a long way,” she said.