Saturday, January 28, 2023

‘Keep growing and keep going’: New space for Black restaurant owners opens at City Market

Four new booths in Indianapolis City Market will provide a space for Black restaurant owners to get their start. A new program with the Indy Black Chamber of Commerce and Bank of America launched Aug. 3 to bring more Black restaurant owners into City Market and provide them with guidance to continue their business after they leave. 

The kitchen incubator called S.O.U.L (Supporting Our Unique Locals) was funded by a grant from Bank of America and will provide fully equipped kitchen spaces and help with setup costs. The four new restaurants are Naptown Hot Chicken, Chef Wuan’s Kitchen, Two Crazy Ladies and T Street Eatz. 

The chamber saw a need for more vendors at City Market after seeing so many leave, said Anita Williams, Indy Black Chamber of Commerce board chair. So, they asked for an opportunity to put four caterers into the market to grow their restaurants. The kitchen will be available to Black caterers and food truck owners who need more space. 

The program will also provide classes focused on food safety, menu creation and marketing, Williams said. 

The goal is to create a “revolving door” for restaurant owners “to grow and outgrow” City Market, Williams said. 

Tasha Claytor, a business owner in the program, was looking for a way to support her family during the pandemic. On top of being a full-time registered nurse, she was doing Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart to keep her family afloat. 

That venture was put on hold when her grandmother, Alberta, died at the end of July. Two weeks later, a voicemail sparked inspiration. 

“One day for her last birthday, I made some food for her,” Claytor said. “I was making a trip for her, a memorial trip, and I got a voicemail ranting and raving about how good my food was. And I was like, that’s it. I can cook.”  

Taking bits and pieces of recipes from her grandmother and the excitement of presentation from her mother, Claytor created T Street Eatz. 

Having a space in City Market will provide more stability for her business by allowing them to be open more consistently, rather than sporadically like they were operating before. 

“This basically is to help build a foundation for our kids and then show that we can do it, we can own a business,” Claytor said. 

Chef David Brown, owner of Naptown Hot Chicken, was also looking for his passion. His upbringing in Haughville has been an inspiration to continuously move forward, do better and stay local, he said. 

Brown has been in the food industry for about 15 years after an eight-year stint in the Navy and Army. Going from a rescue swimmer to a chef brings on a different kind of heat, but he said it made for a smooth transition. 

After serving, he got his master’s degree and searched for his next adventure. He wanted something easy but unique, he said. His twist on the Nashville Hot Chicken is a liquidized sauce instead of the original hot breading. He hopes to inspire others to “keep growing and keep going.” 

“Always keep your goals, make big goals, accomplish those goals, and set more goals,” Brown said. 

Contact staff writer Jayden Kennett 317-762-7847 or by email Follow her on Twitter @JournoJay. 

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