Daddio’s thrives, thanks to flavorful food and owner’s calling to serve others

Rochelle Holmes understood the assignment — her spiritual assignment from God, that is. 

Holmes, the owner of Daddio’s Carry Outs in Holland, says her purpose has been about serving others, which is what she has always done, personally and professionally.

An Elmhurst, Illinois, native, Holmes came to Michigan in 1994 after visiting a cousin in the Holland area. According to Holmes, she came to visit for the Fourth of July holiday, and by that September she was living in Holland, a community that touched her and made her feel like she was home.

Daddio's 2 dine-in restaurant at 573 College Avenue in Holland, Michigan. The indoor diner opened on May 6, 2016, across the patio from the original Daddio's carry-out restaurant that opened on May 23, 2008. (J.R. Valderas)

In her career since then, Holmes always served in a management capacity, from working at Aldi’s to Walmart at locations in Muskegon and Grand Haven. The turning point came in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, when she and her family took in 27 evacuees. That’s also when the idea of the restaurant came about. The planning process led to Daddio’s opening for business in 2008.

“I never thought I’d be a cook,” says Holmes, whose granddaughter, at the age of 3, came up with the restaurant’s name. “I never thought I’d be serving communities abroad and close by like I’m doing.”

Meeting the needs of the times

Daddio’s is currently a walk-up and carryout location at 567 College Avenue in Holland. A sit-down area next door was open during the summer, but Holmes said that, with the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, her spirit told her to close that and keep everyone safe.

Daddio's carry-out restaurant at 567 College Avenue in Holland, Michigan. The tiny kitchen restaurant with outdoor seating opened on May 23, 2008. (J.R. Valderas)

As the pandemic hit and caused many businesses to go under, Holmes knew that changing to meet the needs of the times was crucial for Daddio’s to survive. Holmes knew that finding a new normal was what was needed.

A new walk-up window was installed for patrons to order the home-cooking selections the family-run business offers. Promoting and reaching people via social media has also helped bring truck drivers and other travelers off the highway to the establishment.

While Daddio’s updates customers on Facebook about the different menu items it offers each business day, Holmes says word of mouth has been the most successful method of gaining customers. “Clientele is earned, and how you earn it is spread better by word of mouth,” she says.

Home away from home

Besides various parts of Michigan, customers have also traveled from Indiana, New York, Mississippi, and North Korea. Holmes feels she has been able to provide visitors a welcoming home away from home when they visit Daddio’s.

“There is a big need for it because people want home cooking,” says Holmes, who guarantees a welcoming message, satisfying quantities, and reasonable pricing to anyone who patronizes Daddio’s, which offers a variety of menu items, from fried chicken and seafood to collard greens and candied squash. 

Extended dining room of Daddio's 2 dine-in restaurant in Holland, Michigan.

With options that cater to everyone — including customers with health restrictions — Holmes focuses on flavorful dishes and good customer service, something that she feels has been lost overall in business amid the pandemic.

Looking forward, Holmes, whose restaurant offers catering services, would like to offer more bulk trays and planned meals to feed more people. She’s also considering marketing some of her cooking products and family recipes in the future. 

“I’ll see where the Lord takes me.”

Read more articles by Shanika P. Carter.