INDIANAPOLIS — A former barbecue restaurant on the west side of Indianapolis is now a space where chefs, bakers and food truck operators can grow their businesses.
“This is like the ultimate situation for anyone aspiring because all you have to do is pay for your kitchen time and go home,” Na Tasha Pepper said.
Pepper is a member of the Haughville Shared Kitchen. The space opened in January at the corner of Michigan Street and Belmont Avenue.
“There’s no shared kitchens on the west side of Indianapolis, so this is probably the first one on the actual west side,” Pepper said.
At just 15-years-old, Pepper developed a passion for baking, but at the time she admits she wasn’t that good.
“It was a very, very rough, slow start, because I had no clue what I was doing,” Pepper said.
Practicing her skills and using her co-workers to try out her creations paid off.
She launched Tweety’s Sweeties in 2017. Her baked goods, including her banana nut muffins, are now sold at three Tea’s Me Cafe locations.
“I have corporate clients all over and it’s blowing my mind because I never thought that I would be here,” Pepper said.
Now, as a member of the Haughville Shared Kitchen, she says the sky is the limit.
“I just know that I’m gonna go leaps and bounds beyond what I thought I was doing a couple of years ago,” Pepper said.
Aaron Williams is the owner of Haughville Shared Kitchen and an event space called The Nest, which shares the same building.
“I really wanted to give back to the community that poured so much into me as a young man,” Williams said.
Williams wants to provide members of his community a hand up, not a hand out.
“Within underrepresented communities for minorities, it’s really important for them to have access to resources to be able to start businesses,” Williams said.
In addition to providing commercial kitchen memberships, Williams, who works full time for Google, helps aspiring entrepreneurs with the beginning stages of starting a business.
“We walk them through the process of making sure that they’re registered with the Secretary of State’s office,” Williams said. “We make sure that they have all of their paperwork in line with the Marion County Health Department.”
The members at Haughville Shared Kitchen are also on a list of preferred caterers for The Nest, which allows them to connect with individuals and corporate clients to grow their businesses.
Beverly Mukes-Gaither is the CEO of the Westside Community Development Corporation. She says its exciting to see a new commercial business along the Michigan Street corridor in Haughville.
“It’s going to strengthen the tax base here. There are employment opportunities that come with this. This is a great place to start a business,” Mukes-Gaither said.