By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Sep 30, 2021 at 11:01 AM Photography: Lori Fredrich

A new cafe owned and operated by Walnut Way Conservation Corps., is preparing for its grand opening at the Welness Commons, 1617 W. North Ave. 

The new Taste of Lindsay Heights Cafe – a venue which will showcase carry-out options from a variety of local food entrepreneurs – will host its grand opening celebration on Saturday, Oct. 2 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will feature a ribbon cutting at 9:30 a.m., followed by an opportunity to meet vendors, sample items and purchase dishes from vendors.

Sustinence for the neighborhood

The cafe, which has been in the works since 2019, was the result of a neighborhood survey conducted by Walnut Way’s Community Wealth Building campaign. The goal was to seek out and identify residents’ skills and assets and turn them into economic opportunities.

When the survey returned results indicating that many residents operated small food businesses, often as side hustles, they took that data and used it to form a plan to support these businesses in an efficient manner. 

“We came up with a plan that’s sustainable, that both supports these small businesses and creates an access point for fresh local food for folks who live and work in the neighborhood,” says Chandra Ellis, a local entrepreneur who will also serve as the general manager for Taste of Lindsay Heights Café.

To execute the cafe, Walnut Way partnered with other tenants of The Wellness Commons to offer workforce and employment support. For instance, the Milwaukee Center for Independence (MCFI) provides shared kitchen facilities for chefs, and United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee (UNCOM) assists with café staffing through their Employ Milwaukee workforce program.

For Ellis, the establishment of the cafe not only offers a home base for her quickly growing fresh pressed juice operation, GLDN HNY Inc., but also brings her experience in Lindsay Heights full circle. 

“I got my start at the Juice Kitchen,” Ellis says. “I started years ago mopping floors in this space, and now I’m managing the cafe, growing my business and helping others to do the same.”

On the menu

The cafe will feature a variety of options for customers, from Jamaican-inspired ginger beers and healthful fresh-pressed juices to nourishing bowls and salads, plus comfort food items like pizza. rum cakes and Funky Fresh Springrolls. 

“We have a wide range of entrepreneurs,” notes Ellis. “From folks who are currently operating their businesses as a side hustle to others who are more established. So part of our role is to connect them to resources so that they can scale their businesses to the level that they want.”

Current vendors include 11-year old entrepreneur Kyric Burt, who set up her first lemonade stand at her mother Nikki’s rummage sale to earn money to buy a pair of roller skates. Burt will be selling a variety of made-to-order lemonades packaged in custom labeled bottles designed by her cousin My’chree Harris which depict “cute, not scary” monsters with lemons. Kyric’s Lemonade can also be found at her uncle’s convenience store, Williams Pantry at 10732 W. Hampton Ave.

Paula Bost of Rum Cakes by Paula will be selling a rotating selection of homemade cakes including rum cakes in flavors like pineapple, coconut, pina colada and classic rum; red velvet cakes, five-flavor pound cakes, layer cakes and banana pudding.

Chandra Ellis’s GLDN HNY Inc. will offer fresh pressed juices made from fresh ingredients including watermelon, Honeycrisp apples and organic kale, along with sea moss gels and healthful juice shots like “Life is Good” (kale and apple); “Bless You” (orange and ginger): “Love Below” (watermelon and strawberry); “Sacred Root: (beets and pineapple) and “Tummy Tuck” (ginger elixir).

Meanwhile, Kreative Fruitz, a business run by assistant manager Imani Raiyne, will offer a selection of snacking boxes, fruit Cups, parfaits and fruit infused water at the cafe. Kreative Fruitz will  also offer services including custom fruit art, artfully presented packages for events, including birthdays, weddings and corporate events, as well as live carvings, team building classes and parties.

Entrepreneur Miranda Wilder will also be serving goods from Simple Snacks, a business that specializes in old fashioned butter cookies, including lemon butter cookies with white chocolate drizzle; strawberry pecan cookies with caramel white chocolate drizzle; and turtle cookies with toffee. Vegan and gluten-free cookies, as well as trail mix and other healthy snacks will also be available moving forward.  

There will also be ginger-based beverages made by Patricia Bent of Aunt Manda’s Beverages, a business inspired by Bent’s great grandmother, who made and sold juices to school children in Kingston, Jamaica. Offerings will include traditional ginger beer and flavored variations including orange and strawberry; pineapple, wildberry; cucumber and watermelon.

“The Taste of Lindsay Heights is part of Walnut Way's strategy to help food entrepreneurs grow their businesses and offer fresh, healthy foods within our community,” notes Antonio Butts, executive director for Walnut Way. “Customers will be delighted with the choices and quality of our products, made fresh by the most talented chefs in Lindsay Heights!”

In addition to regular vendors, the cafe will also host regular pop-ups showcasing other local businesses and allowing them to test out and promote their products. 

Taste of Lindsay Heights Cafe is open for carry-out Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Head to tasteoflindsayheights.com for the full cafe menu and more about the cafe’s vendors. You can also follow the cafe @Tasteoflindsayheights on both Facebook and Instagram.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.