A hard worker. Mr. Fix-It. A therapist. A comedian. A family man. A friend.
These are just some of the descriptors offered by loved ones of Kenneth “Kenny” Adams.
Adams, who died May 28 at the age of 61 from colorectal cancer, left a career with a logistics company 23 years ago to launch a soul food restaurant in Charlotte, according to his obituary.
Since then, La’Wan’s Soul Food Restaurant has become a Charlotte staple. And many who knew and loved Adams through his passion and other avenues have shared gratitude for his impact on their lives since his death.
Building community through food
Almost 200 comments were left on a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page announcing Adams’ death.
“One of my favorite memories of working for you was when I got to see Mr. Kenny and he always had a joke up his sleeve!” a former employee, Shaquirah Ward, wrote. “And because I moved so fast, he would always say ‘slow down, just take a breath, enjoy the moment while you have it.’ Words I hold on to, to this day!”
Tanyelle LaToya, who said she’s eaten at La’Wans since her days as a UNC Charlotte student in the 1990s, wrote that Adams was “always a pleasure to talk to.”
“(I) will miss Mr. Ken dearly,” she commented.
Adams’ loss was felt not just by customers but by others in the restaurant business in Charlotte.
Multiple current and former members of the staff of Restaurant Depot, a food service supply store, left condolences for the family.
“I speak for everyone that used to work for Restaurant Depot when I say he was one of the coolest customers ever,” William Puryear II commented. “He always gave us a good word of advice or a few good jokes. … He will be missed.”
“He was my favorite customer at Restaurant Depot,” Shavonika Oliver wrote on Facebook. “He always was in good spirits (and) even when I wasn’t, he would come to the desk and ask for something just to make me laugh.”
Londa’s Place, another Charlotte soul food restaurant, also took to social media to offer prayers for Adams’ family and the staff of La’Wan’s.
“May God’s comfort and love from the Charlotte community be with them during this time,” the restaurant’s Facebook post said.
Celebrating a ‘father figure to many’
La’Wan’s — named one of the top four soul food restaurants in Charlotte by the Observer in 2019 — has remained open since Adams’ death.
“The response we’ve received regarding my dad’s passing has been overwhelming in the best way possible,” Adams’ children shared on the restaurant’s Facebook page. “The day after, we woke up to over 200 posts, messages and comments all about your wonderful experiences with him and his crazy self. His beautiful spirit was spread far and wide and it’s so amazing to feel and see. The stories and posts we’ve been reading about your interactions with him keep us smiling everyday and we appreciate it so much.”
Adams is survived by his wife, La’Wan Douglas Adams, as well as four children, a granddaughter, multiple siblings and multiple nieces and nephews, according to his obituary.
“Friends and family could count on him to be fun-loving, a mentor, a jack of all trades, a comedian, and a Mr. Fix-It, who was often called upon for his patience, wisdom, and peacemaking abilities,” the obituary said.
He was also a sports fan “and took great pride in La’Wan’s providing catering for NFL teams at Bank of America Stadium and meals for NBA team members at Spectrum Center.”
“While interacting with professional athletes was a treat, Kenny enjoyed serving people from all walks of life,” the obituary noted.
A funeral service for Adams is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, June 10, at Greater Blessed Hope Baptist Church, 3607 Andrew Jackson Drive, Waxhaw, NC 28173.
The service is open to the public, the family shared on the restaurant’s Facebook page, where they also encouraged “anyone who had a sweet memory with Kenny to write it on his obituary page for all of us to see and have as a keepsake.”