Brian and Vanessa Ward “Papa and Mama Duke” – Owners
Brian and Vanessa bring their family traditions of Cajun and Creole recipes to the Kansas City area. After operating for 15 years as a catering business, they established their food truck in Moscow, Idaho in 2016, regularly serving John’s Alley music venue, local college campuses, the Latah County Fair, Moscow City Art Walk, and a wide variety of other community events throughout Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. While Brian is working on his Doctorate in Music Composition at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Vanessa and the rest of the team are working hard to start serving Kansas City metro area a taste of these family recipes.
Damon Keller “Happy Feet” – CEO, General Manager
Damon was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. As Vanessa’s first son, he grew up with her cooking as a family tradition. His favorite meal is fried chicken, mac-and-cheese, and of course, cornbread. From professional dancer and teaching artist to barista and café manager, Damon’s years of leadership experience and customer service expertise has brought him to serve as General Manager of Duke’s Place. Currently, he’s in his seventh year teaching for Portland Public Schools as the Dance Department Director, Dance Team Coach, and SUN School teacher for Ockley Green Middle School and serving the community as the Arts Liaison.
David Ward “Bam Bam” – Assistant Manager, Bookkeeper
David Ward is the second youngest son of founders Brian and Vanessa Ward. A recent graduate of the University of Michigan, David is a professional drummer and bandleader. Although he is a musician by trade, he spent many early adult years working in restaurants and kitchens in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He finds it difficult to pick a favorite dish, but fondly remembers his mother’s shrimp sliders from when he was a kid.
Jacob Ward “Chalumeau” – Consumer Relations, Social Media
The youngest member of the team, Jacob is currently in his Junior year at the University of Michigan pursuing a degree in Performance and Performing Arts Management. His passion for fashion design and photography has led him to become both Social Media Editor and Digital Fashion Editor for SHEI Magazine, the University of Michigan’s official fashion, arts, and culture publication. His favorite dish is definitely the catfish po’boy with extra remoulade.