Several Black-owned businesses popped up throughout Indianapolis this year. From restaurants to wineries to grocery stores, the type of businesses started in 2019 ran the gamut and show the creativity of African Americans to either meet a need in the community or provide an upscale service.
Here are a few Black-owned businesses that opened in 2019.
Cleo’s Bodega opened in June on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. Half grocery store, half café, Cleo’s provides access to healthy groceries that community residents haven’t seen in years following the closing of the neighborhood Double 8 grocery store.
“I appreciate the fact that there is fresh produce in this area now,” customer Robin Jackson said. “All we had was the gas station for years once Double 8 closed.”
Owned and operated by Flanner House, a nonprofit that helps residents gain the skills they need to be self-sufficient, the bodega offers community residents the ability to get locally-grown produce and other grocery needs.
According to store manager Sibeko Jywanza, Cleo’s Bodega is the only store with fresh produce available within a two-mile radius. Cleo’s offers local products, including Londo’s Flameade, and local produce grown by Flanner House and other local gardens. The store offers bags of apples, corn and other fresh produce for less than $6.
Named after Cleo Blackburn, who served as executive director of Flanner House for 30 years, Jywanza said the bodega follows the spirit of its namesake, who “created a way for people to fend for themselves when it comes to food. That’s the spirit we have.”
More info: Cleo’s Bodega, 2432 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. Call 317-932-3100, or visit flannerhouse.org or Facebook.
Michael’s Soul Kitchen opened its doors in February, making use of the vacant space left by the closing of Chef Joseph’s Downtown. Co-owned by Romeo Gerson and Connie Oates-Allen, Michael’s Soul Kitchen serves dishes such as smothered pork chops, baked spaghetti and fried catfish. With a kitchen led by head chef Dan Carter, owner of Chef Dan’s Southern Comfort catering and food truck, the restaurant offers weekly live entertainment and weekend buffets, which includes a soul food brunch.
During the summer, Black-owned restaurants celebrated the first Black Restaurant Week in Indianapolis, with the kickoff at Michael’s Soul Kitchen.
More info: Michael’s Soul Kitchen, 115 Ohio St. Call 317-855-6161, or visit michaelsoulkitchen.com.
When Carmen Randolph opened She Spot Winery in May, she finished a journey she began in 2012. Randolph bonded with her dad over their shared love of wine, and after he died in 2009, Randolph set out to learn the art of winemaking.
“My dad and I both loved wine, but we had very different taste,” Randolph said. “I promised him that I would make a wine that he would like, and I tried to make a wine before I knew what I was doing.”
Inspired to hone her craft, Randolph now owns and operates She Spot Winery, with seven different types of wine available throughout the year, as well as seasonal options. Randolph’s personal favorite is the mango wine, while the store’s bestseller is the blackberry wine, both served year-round.
In 2020, Randolph hopes to host more events at the winery, expand its presence on social media, and offer programs to educate people on the various types of wine.
She Spot Winery is Black-owned, female-owned and veteran-owned, with both Randolph and her husband being veterans of the United States Army.
More info: She Spot Winery, 5198 N. Franklin Road. Call 317-656-0797, or visit wineandcandlesllc.com.
Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.