INDIANAPOLIS — A new program at the Indianapolis City Market building is giving chefs the chance to open the restaurants of their dreams.
The Supporting Our Unique Locals, or S.O.U.L. of the City Kitchen Incubator is a partnership between the City Market building, Indy Black Chamber of Commerce, and Bank of America.
The incubator gives Black chefs retail space, experience and valuable lessons to help set them up for success.
“I’ve always wanted to be my own boss,” said Chef DaWuan Finley. “It means the world to me because the opportunity came, and it was just a blessing.”
Chef DaWuan Finley started Chef Wuan’s Kitchen last year after leaving corporate America.
“It is American food with a southern twist,” he said.
He recently opened his location in the S.O.U.L. of the City Kitchen Incubator downtown.
“Downtown is up and coming, there is more residents living downtown. So, I believe there is a great opportunity to reach those potential customers,” Chef DaWuan said.
The program gives chefs a fully equipped station and once-a-week training from the Indy Black Chamber of Commerce.
“We are providing them with the training, the tools, the concepts, everything they need to sustain and run a successful business,” said Indy Black Chamber of Commerce Chief Financial Officer Greg Hicks.
“It’s not just us throwing them into a fully equipped station and leave them from there. We are providing them with the education they need, the knowledge they need.”
It’s something Chef Wuan is grateful for.
“I’ve learned a lot from those trainings and just having personal connections with people that I can actually call on the phone,” he said.
And other chefs in the program agree.
“I think I call it the Ten Most Wanted Lessons where they teach you about financing, they teach you how to market your company, how to do trademarks and all those things,” said Chef David Brown with Naptown Hot Chicken.
They also get the benefit of being in the historic Indianapolis City Market building.
“I think that it speaks to Indianapolis and what Indianapolis is all about. It’s a welcoming facility and we have a lot of history here and it’s very important to a lot of people,” said Indianapolis City Market Executive Director Keisha Harrison.
“I think it can help them to become a part of not only the history of the City Market but the history of Indianapolis as a whole.”
The program was funded by a $150,000 grant from Bank of America. The goal is for the bank to also help those businesses open their own brick-and-mortar location outside of the City Market building within a year or two and create a new space for a new chef to join the incubator.
Three spaces just opened early August, one more will open soon and there is a 5th space they are looking for someone to fill. You can find more information about applying here.