Getting a 'Taste of Lindsay Heights' from three Milwaukee food entrepreneurs
We’re continuing our COVID Earners Series, where we learn about businesses owned and operated by people of color who are reimagining our city’s future during the pandemic.
Taste of Lindsay Heights, located at 1617 West North Avenue, is a carryout cafe owned and operated by Walnut Way and its Community Wealth Building Campaign. The cafe features cuisines from residents in Lindsay Heights. And since its opening in October 2021, the cafe supports six budding food entrepreneurs working on getting their businesses off the ground.
Chandra Ellis operates Golden Honey Juice and Company and is the community wealth building coordinator with Walnut Way. Ellis shares the origin of Taste of Lindsay Heights. It all started with entrepreneur Paula Bost and her rum cake business idea combined with Walnut Way's efforts to support residents in their passions and side hustles.
Ellis says an opportunity to reuse the commercial corridors on 16th Street and North Avenue arose. It wasn't long before the Walnut Way Conservation Corporation got a hold of the space and recruited residents who had ideas for food businesses to make up the food cohort.
Ellis notes they had to pivot in the pandemic, pushing back the original opening date to 2021. Additionally, throughout the pandemic, she noticed how COVID-19 drastically impacted their community compared to the rest of the city, especially as to who was able to access fresh and healthy foods.
"We wanted to be a space that provided healthy fresh foods for the residents who are now being affected by the [COVID-19] virus. We also wanted to be an outlet and an incubator space for the entrepreneurs to be able to showcase their products. To be a support for them to launch into bigger endeavors," says Ellis.
Ellis says the immediate reaction when most people learn about Taste Of Lindsay Heights is, "how can I get involved" or "how can I help."
"The community has been receiving us quite well. There was a lot of curiosity because the corridor was closed for so long," says Ellis.
Paula Bost is the owner of Rum Cakes by Paula. She says her own business has grown in exposure and sales. In addition, she says that she's made several connections to residents who have come to love her products through the cafe.
"I'm actually very grateful that I'm a part of it. It's been a wonderful experience. There's some wonderful entrepreneurs that we're working with" Bost says. "I'm happy to be a part of it."
Patricia Bent is the owner of Aunt Manda’s Beverages, she adds that Taste of Lindsay Heights gave her a chance to connect to the community though her island roots.
The Jamaican business owner says her recipes are from her great-grandmother, Aunt Manda. And it brings her joy when other Jamaicans come across her product.
"It's nice when a Jamaican can go in and see ginger beer and buy it and come back for more," Bent says.
Ellis hopes that the pandemic has shifted more people to be concerned and interested in their health. She highlights that the community food cohort is stronger when the community comes together.
The three women all agree that Taste of Lindsay Heights is an investment in the generations to come. This is especially true when investing in food equity in Milwaukee, future job creation, and supporting young people to be entrepreneurs themselves.
"We grow ourselves so that eventually, we can employ individuals from within the Lindsay Heights community and provide job opportunities to those individuals. I think for me, that's one of the keys to being a part of this. We're able to give back to the community in some way as it relates to job employment opportunities," says Ellis.
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