August 5, 2022

Kitchen incubator provides training and space for Black entrepreneurs at City Market

Chef Dave Brown at the City Market.  - Jill Sheridan/WFYI

Chef Dave Brown at the City Market.

Jill Sheridan/WFYI

Black chefs in Indianapolis now have a new opportunity to grow their business.

The S.O.U.L. (Supporting Our Unique Locals) of the City Kitchen Incubator program offers four entrepreneurs booth space at the historic Indianapolis City Market. 

Owner of Naptown Hot Chicken Chef Dave Brown said the opportunity is invaluable.

“To help your company get to the next level and get there quicker without having a lot of the issues and financial hurdles of starting a business from scratch,” Brown said.

The effort is a partnership between Indy Black Chamber of Commerce and Bank of America.  It also provides a state-of-the-art kitchen for Black caterers and food truck operators to use.

CFO of the Indy Black Chamber, Greg Hicks said the program offers more than ovens and mixers.
“Not only putting them into a fully equipped station, but we’re also providing training for them,” Hicks said. “So we’ll give them the education they need so they can get the information with how to grow your business, the financial literacy behind it.”

Restaurants were hit hard during the pandemic and the cost of getting into the business can be a barrier for many.  The program’s goal is to help businesses move into a traditional brick in mortar space in a few years.

The project is supported by a $150,000 grant from Bank of America as part of its five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity for historically marginalized communities.

Bank of America Indianapolis President Andy Crask said working with local organizations furthers this commitment.

“That’s where we think there’s a great opportunity for us to tackle society’s big challenges together,” Crask said.

The City Market lost a number of vendors during the pandemic but is experiencing some revitalization. The city of Indianapolis recently announced plans to redevelop buildings around the City Market block bringing hundreds of new housing units.

Executive Director of the Indianapolis City Market Keisha Harrison said this new incubator space will only add to the market’s heritage.

“To help a particular demographic right now be able to experience that and partake in that long history and tradition is just wonderful,” Harrison said.

Information about how chefs can participate in the S.O.U.L. of the City Kitchen Incubator program is available on the Indy Black Chamber’s website.

Contact WFYI city government and policy reporter Jill Sheridan at jsheridan@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @JillASheridan.

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