Pages:9 (2844 words)
Document Type:Business Plan
Business Proposal for Coffee Shop & Restaurants: The Madam Walker Theatre
History and Why the Business Fits
My business proposal is to start (re-start) the coffee-shop/restaurant that once existed in Walker Theatre (it was then named “The Coffee Pot”). The Madam Walker Theatre was named after Madam C. J. Sarah Breedlove Walker, an African-American entrepreneur who specialized in hair care and beauty products that were manufactured and sold in the building that now serves as her namesake. She developed and initiated plans for the building to be built and after her death in 1919 the completion of the project fell to her daughter A’Leila Walker. The building opened in 1927 and served as both the headquarters for the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company—one of the biggest and brightest examples of African-American ingenuity and industry in the 20th century (National Park Service, 2019)—and as an entertainment theatre for the African American community, where jazz bands played and showmen performed. There was salon and beauty school, a ballroom, a movie theatre, a drugstore, professional offices, and there was the Coffee Pot restaurant.
All told, it was a sensational building full of life and vitality—but by mid-century the neighborhood began to decline and the fortunes of the Walker Theatre did as well (Benedict-Browne, 2019). Still, the Walker Building represents the heart of Indianapolis’ African-American community’s past and present, as Benedict-Browne (2019) has put it. And that is why my business idea will fit into it. I want to bring back the Coffee Pot restaurant and re-realize the ambition of Madam Walker to be part of the lifeblood of the community, offering the daily cup of Joe and food to boot. As an African-American, my lifeblood is connected to Madam Walker and no Walker Building restoration could be complete without its coffee shop.
Connecting African Roots
As an African-American with roots in South Africa, my heritage is linked with the African heritage of the Madam Walker Building. She was the first female African American millionaire in the U.S. and that is a great inspiration to many—but what is most inspiring to me is that fact that she gave so much back to the community: she helped fund the local YMCA and donated to a nationwide anti-lynching campaign to help stop and prevent violence against her African-American brothers and sisters. That is what makes her a millionaire in my eyes, for I know all too well, hailing as I do from South Africa, the impact that violence can have on a community. My aim is to use the Coffee Pot as a community center where people of all races can come together as one and put an end to the decades of violence and bigotry that have persisted in communities since the Civil Rights Era, when so much seemed within America’s grasp and yet has eluded it even still.
The Walker Building has long been an icon in Indianapolis of the power and culture of the African-American community. It is filled with African emblems, highlighting and promoting the beauty and charm of African heritage and culture: there are African-inspired masks—a sphinx (a nod to Egypt), a spear, a shield—and lots of art deco design. The building is the perfect blend of African-Americanism: it unites the American art deco style with a true African taste and sensibility.
In South Africa, such a building as this would be praised for hundreds of miles in all directions. It would be the glory of the nation, representing a moment in history that uplifted the community. In Indianapolis, Madam Walker gave her all to make sure her business and her community would benefit from the money she made as an entrepreneur. South Africans of all stripes can appreciate such a gesture. That is why I want to be part of the revitalization.
Differentiating My Coffee Shop from the Rest
As Madam Walker herself stated: “I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don't sit down and wait for opportunities to come. Get up and make them” (Madam Walker Legacy Center, 2019). That is exactly what I aim to do. To make my opportunity I understand the need to differentiate myself and my coffee shop from what others are doing. As Trout and Rivkin (2006) have shown, one must “differentiate or die.” For me that means creating a product and providing a service in an environment that is unlike anything anywhere else. What makes people want to come to a place like a coffee shop day in and day out where there coffee shops dotting every corner of every community? First, the product must delivery at a high level. Second, the service must shine. And third the environment must speak volumes and give people that extra pick-up-and-go that they want when they step foot into a coffee shop.
They would get that from my coffee shop because I would specialize in serving coffees and teas from African countries, such as Egypt, Bahamas, Jamaica, Morocco, with South African rooibos tea, etc. This coffee shop will offer authentic coffees and teas from African nations, beans and tea leaves that leave mouths wanting more. The smells in this shop will be out of this world enticing, drawing noses from miles around just so nostrils can delight in the fragrant aromas that will daily be a staple in the renewed Coffee Shop of the Walker Building.
Plus, there will be African and African-American specialty foods and deserts, such as Pap…
…having a culture that is vibrant and alive, a culture that a community can embrace and hug and make its own; a culture it can learn from and promote and pass on to its children and the next generation of people who grow up in this neighborhood, in this city, in this state and in this nation. It is about creating something special with our time, our talent, our money and our vision. We do this together. We all live this dream of passing on what we have been given, of leaving things a little bit better than they were when we found them. That is what sustainability means—it is the lifeblood that we all depend upon. Culture is the heart that pumps that blood, and the Madam Building with a female minority like me representing the Madam Walker Coffee Shop, and representing South Africa and other African nations, and representing the local community, and representing UI and the Madam Walker Legacy Center—it would be a spectacle to rival all spectacles in my book. It would make this community want to hop and celebrate the past, the present and the future.
Giving me this opportunity would benefit the partnership between UI and the Legacy Center and it would benefit the Legacy of Madam Walker as well. First, it would benefit the partnership because I would never do anything opposed to the principles and ideals promoted by the partnership. My aim would be to support the partnership and its vision so that all know who and what made this development possible. I would want that partnership to flow through everything I do so that every customer knows that it was the partnership that made it happen—that I was just an instrument.
And it would benefit the Legacy of Madam Walker as well because it was she who first made it all possible, who started the idea, who brought this building to life. She planted the seed for this culture to grow, for this dream to take place. She gave back to her community and now it is time for her community to give back to her—and that is what I want to do—all for her and her achievements—all for her and what she did to support and honor her people.
So, in closing, consider this proposal as my vision of what I would like to see happening in the Madam Walker Building. To bring back Africa to Indianapolis and to honor the legacy of Madam Walker, I feel it is absolutely essential to bring back the Coffee Shop restaurant and to infuse it with a real African experience in authentic ethnic African cuisine, teas and coffees. It would be an experience unlike any other. And it could potentially change the lives…
Benedict-Browne, T. (2019). The Icon of Indiana Avenue. Retrieved from http://nomeancity.com/walker-theater
Evans, D. (2010). Social media marketing: An hour a day. John Wiley & Sons.
Hobbs, J. (2017). 15 of Africa's favorite dishes. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/africa-food dishes/index.html#targetText=Pap%20en%20vleis%2FShisa%20nyama%2C%20South%20Africa&targetText=Chops%2C%20steak%2C%20chicken%2C%20kebabs,and%20suurpap%20(soured%20pap).
Madam Walker Legacy Center. (2019). Retrieved from https://madamwalkerlegacycenter.com/
National Park Service. (2019). Madame C. J. Walker Building. Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/indianapolis/walkerbuilding.html
Trout, J. & Rivkin, S. (2006). Differentiate or die. In The marketing Gurus (ed. Murray). NY: Penguin.
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