Though donuts and ramen don’t readily seem to have anything in common, the odd combination makes perfect sense for the creative growth plans of two local food-preneurs.
A couple originally from Seattle, Adam Perry and Kari Nickander have always shared a passion for cooking, keeping up with the latest food trends and developing creative dishes together. After moving to Indy 10 years ago, they decided to make a career out of it, and their relationship grew to include the title of “business partners”. At the beginning of their business adventure, Perry and Nickander started by operating two food trucks: an Indian taco truck named Taco Lassi, and a Vietnamese banh mi and pho truck named Pho Mi.
After a couple years, the pair eventually closed their food trucks to launch their popular brick-and-mortar donut shop in Fletcher Place. Indy’s first gourmet donut shop General American Donut Company opened in 2014.
Now, with almost four years running General American, the couple is ready to pursue their next culinary adventure: Black Eye Take Out.
“We always thought we would do a take-out only banh mi and pho shop before we ever did the donut shop”, shared Perry, who also explained the recent plans to serve ramen. “Over the past couple years, we’ve been keeping an eye out for little spaces that are close by. About a year ago, we found a space on Virginia Avenue… it was tiny, but we loved it. We were trying to figure out if we could make it work, doing the prep and the cooking here [at General American], and use that space for takeout. ”
Perry and Nickander leased the space in the summer of 2017 and immediately devised a plan to renovate the Black Eye space and build-out the kitchen at General American. This strategy would allow the business to grow through both locations, and would only require a relatively small amount of capital. After researching their financing options, Perry and Nickander decided to pursue a microloan through the Business Ownership Initiative (BOI), part of the Entrepreneur Services division of the Indy Chamber.
Providing financial support and business education is central to the mission of Business Ownership Initiative. When businesses inquire about a microloan, BOI staff members help entrepreneurs navigate the application process and provide business coaching along the way, helping with their financials and growth strategy. For this reason, Perry said he knew BOI was the right lender for their business. “We got really excited about working with people that are invested in our success and that care about us as a local business and not just as a ledger sheet. The mentorship side of BOI serving as a resource for the business was just as great. It seemed like a perfect fit.”
Doing most of the work themselves, the couple has been busy preparing their 350-square foot space for an April 2018 launch using BOI funding. “Inside it’s going to be really a different experience than I have seen almost anywhere… We love that aspect of doing it, almost like an art project”, shared Perry. The small space features unique details such as a glowing plexiglass floor and walls plastered with Japanese punk rock poster art.
The couple is always developing creative ideas for growing businesses, whether it’s through serving fried chicken at General American, creating a line of packaged food, or transforming the windows of Black Eye Take Out into outdoor movie screens. And to them, Indianapolis is the right place to pursue culinary passion projects.
“In doing food here and getting to know Indianapolis over the past 10 years, I could see right away that Indianapolis was an area that was going to grow a lot, making it a great lab for new food things”, shared Perry. “You may start to see a lot of chefs coming here to Indy because you can actually do your dream restaurant here, whereas you can’t there [on the coasts] because it’s prohibitively expensive. This may be the time where you see a lot of the creativity moving to the Interior.”
It’s safe to assume that Black Eye Take Out isn’t the last adventure that Perry and Nickander will pursue together as business owners. We can’t wait to see what’s next for this inventive couple.
Stay updated about the opening of Black Eye Take Out by following their instagram account: @blackeyetakeout.
Learn more about the BOI Microloan program at indychamber.com/lending.