Island Soul and Arleana’s Owner Theo Martin on Crossing the Bridge

In 2005, Theo Martin opened the restaurant we now know simply as Island Soul, a joyful confluence of soul food and Caribbean flavors forged with longtime chef Bobby Laing. Last April, Martin and his family debuted a new spot, Arleana’s, serving Caribbean dishes with French touches in a dramatic Kirkland dining room. The name pays tribute to Martin’s late mother; Lula Arleana and Loy Venus Martin adopted Theo after an early childhood split between an estimated 14 foster homes.

As Martin tells it, his father brought him into the restaurant industry (and out of a 20-year career as a Nordstrom shoe buyer). Now he finally has a chance to

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