Local Black-owned Indianapolis businesses you should visit for Black History Month

Support Black-owned businesses for all your food, apparel and fitness needs. Photo courtesy of EmpressSigns.com

CASSANDRA STEC | STAFF REPORTER | cmstec@butler.edu

In honor of celebrating Black History Month, here are five Black-owned businesses in the Indianapolis area that you will not want to miss. From restaurants, bodegas and cafes to clothing stores and wellness centers, Indianapolis has dozens of Black-owned businesses to support this month and every month.

Haven Yoga Studio 

309 W 42nd Street

Haven Yoga Studio is a Black woman-owned wellness studio that is only a short drive from Butler’s campus. The studio is a space where people of different identities are welcomed to practice yoga and wellness together, as well as learn and cultivate community with their peers. The studio tries to center its programs on the experiences and needs of underrepresented groups. 

The studio offers eight different classes as well as a variety of events and trainings throughout the year. The classes can be attended via a pay-per-class fee or membership, which can be purchased on their website or in-person. Aside from in-person memberships and classes, they also host virtual classes and have online memberships. In addition to classes, the studio has a free online support community that can be accessed through their website.

Auboni Hart, a Butler alumnus in marketing and music industry studies, attended classes at Haven Yoga Studio after she had knee surgery on both her knees. She worked with the head instructor, Charlie, who helped her navigate classes while recovering from surgery. 

“She did not hesitate to encourage me to use supportive equipment, called support blocks, during my session with her,” Hart said. “She said that many people view support blocks as a crutch but, just like life, sometimes you need a little support to be stronger.”

Hart also praised the studio for the atmosphere, care, attention and intention that they place in all that they do. 

“I 100% recommend Haven Yoga Studios to anyone looking to get their start at yoga and those who are more seasoned but are looking for a yoga studio to call home,” Hart said.

Maxine’s Chicken & Waffles

132 N. East Street 

Maxine’s Chicken & Waffles is a family business created by the children and grandchildren of the restaurant’s namesake — Maxine Bunnell. The recipes on the menu have been passed down in the Bunnell family for generations. Maxine’s specializes in soul food, specifically chicken, seafood and BBQ. They also offer all the traditional soul food sides such as collard greens, fried green tomatoes, mac and cheese and coleslaw. 

Lenice Bailey, a first-year mechanical engineering and astronomy astrophysics major, said Maxine’s reminds her of Thanksgiving.

“I’ve only been once but it reminded me of Thanksgiving day and all the food my granny and uncle would cook,” Bailey said. “It was delicious and would definitely go back again. It gives off a Black Thanksgiving vibe.”

In addition to their menu, the restaurant also offers a host of specials every week: every Tuesday through Friday, Maxine’s has all-day specials ranging from burgers and wings to chicken tenders and fish baskets. 

Besides dining in, the restaurant also does catering for private events and has started offering “The Max Express,” where they will deliver online orders free of charge if you live in downtown Indianapolis. 

Cleo’s Bodega Grocery and Cafe 

2432 Doctor M.L.K Jr Street

Cleo’s Bodega Grocery and Cafe is located eleven minutes away from Butler’s campus and contains a bodega as well as a cafe. The bodega grocery portion of Cleo’s offers a variety of groceries including vegan and vegetarian products. Many of their products are either local, Black-owned or both, such as the popsicle brand Rasta Pops. 

On the other side of the building, there is a large cafe space with free wifi and the option to dine in or take food to-go. 

Every second and last Friday of the month, the cafe hosts “One and Done” specials which consist of a menu item that is served at 11:00 a.m. and continues to be served until they are out of the item. The first “One and Done” special for February consisted of a Surf and Turf sandwich. 

In addition to “One and Done” specials, the cafe portion of Cleo’s also features a variety of smoothies and smoothie specials which tends to be their most popular item. 

Aly Paul, a junior physics and biomedical engineering major, went to Cleo’s as part of a multicultural pre-Welcome Week Dawg Days activity last year.

“I loved those smoothies…,” Paul said. “I would go back and I recommend Cleo’s and any of their smoothies.” 

Circle City Soul Food

1164 W. 30th Street

Circle City Soul Food is another local family-owned restaurant that has a menu featuring recipes passed down through the generations. Unlike other businesses on this list, Circle City Soul Food is a Sunday-only business, meaning they are only open on Sundays. 

The menu consists of a variety of traditional soul foods including the highly acclaimed pork chops, cornbread and potatoes. 

The restaurant currently offers to-go orders, catering for private events and online orders throughout the week that can be picked up at their location on Sundays. Some menu items such as the fried fish and pork chops are made to order on the spot. 

Blacksheep Collective

Blacksheep Collective was created in 2015 with the intention of expressing faith through art. The husband and wife team behind Blacksheep Collective took their combined talents of marketing and design and created a faith-based lifestyle brand. 

The online retailer features a variety of shirts, sweatshirts, hats and stickers. Some of the messages featured on the shirts state “Love Every Human” and “If You Don’t Have Love, You Have Nothing.” Other pieces on the site are comprised of different art pieces or the company’s logo. 

In addition to original designs, Blacksheep Collective also partners with local businesses and organizations to create different lines of merchandise. One such collaboration was with the local streetwear brand Nap or Nothing. 

Indianapolis is a city with a wide array of Black-owned businesses that fit every need. During Black History Month and every other month of the year, make sure to remember the countless Black-owned businesses located in Indianapolis when deciding on where to eat, shop or meditate.

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