Alexis H. is the head baker at Em’s Cafe in Findlay Market. She’s been working at various places around the market for 10 years, so she’s observed a lot of change in and around the neighborhood. Belonging in her eyes requires a little give and take from everyone in the community.
ON GETTING STARTED AS A BAKER
I feel like I’ve been in the food industry my whole life. I’ve been down here [Findlay Market] for 10 years. Before Em’s, I started at Kroeger & Sons. I made, cut and sold sausages. After that I went to Fresh Table, and then worked at Cake Rack as the cook there—I’ve been all over.
I didn’t know that I wanted to be in food, but eventually I was like, ‘I think this is what I’m gonna do,’ because before I knew it, I already had 10 years experience, so why not?
ON THE PERCEPTION OF FINDLAY MARKET
I feel like a lot of people from this community feel that the market isn’t a place for them. They feel like they can’t afford the product that’s here. The diversity—or perception of the lack of diversity—makes people feel like they can’t come here since there are a lot more white shoppers now. With this being a predominantly black neighborhood, all of the changes they’ve made to the market create an environment that makes the neighbors think that the doors aren’t open for them. I’m like, ‘No there are so many benefits to coming here!’. In some cases, there are even more options and cheaper prices for food here than at Kroger. The changes are real, and I understand that my perspective is a little different because I work here.
I’m on my way to starting my own business, but I’ve seen both ends. I grew up in poverty and had to take care of myself and my kids so I totally understand. But in the same sense, I don’t think you can get left behind–you have to move with society.
I don’t think you can get left behind–you have to move with society.
I feel like a lot of people from this community feel that the market isn’t a place for them. They feel like they can’t afford the product that’s here.
ON BELONGING FOR OVER-THE-RHINE RESIDENTS
Feeling like you belong can all be a mindset. People automatically assume that a place isn’t for them and jump to conclusions like, ‘Oh they don’t take stamps!’ without even properly investigating. I hate to say it like that but people think that there’s no diversity here and we’re like ‘come in, welcome,’ you just have to be open to the invitation.
There are things for everyone here, you just have to come and see it for yourself. The things that are available now weren’t available 10 years ago. Findlay has been working harder to make sure the community feels like they belong. If you come and participate, we will accept you – You just have to be willing to take that first step.