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The Batata Shop

Detroit, MI 48221

Tawnya Clark

The smell of breakfast in the morning is one of life's tiny delights that many people look forward to. Tawnya Clark has turned breakfast into a special treat available anytime of the day with her food company, the Batata Shop.

The Batata Shop is a catering business that makes a variety of sweet potato waffles served with specialty toppings. Clark says her family always made pancakes from scratch for Sunday brunch. They would often celebrate special family events and birthdays with a delicious homemade breakfast. While Tawnya was spending time as a caregiver for her grandmother, she began to experiment with their traditional family recipes.

Adding in sweet potatoes was a hit, and soon her family, friends, and friends of friends started to ask if they could buy them.

"I thought maybe this was my next business idea. I had always wanted to start a business," Clark says. She adds her parents raised her to always pursue passions and other forms of income.

After she discovered her food product she wanted to learn how to license and run a food business in Detroit. Clark graduated from the Bizdom program, and later joined a group of food entrepreneurs called FoodLab Detroit, which is based in the Green Garage. Bizdom helped her learn how to start a business. FoodLab Detroit helped her turn that business into a company focused on profit, community, and the environment. She now uses all green-safe products for serving her food and recycles.

When it comes to community, Clark sees the Batata Shop as a way to help promote and attract others to Detroit.

"If you come to Detroit, I want others to say you have to stop at the Batata Shop," Clark says. "I am also very purposeful when people approach me about catering. I try to publicize the events we cater as much as possible."

The sweet potato waffles are always a hit at local events. Recently, her business has catered Girl Develop It Detroit's one year anniversary party and PonyRide's holiday part, two non-profits helping grow Detroit’s entrepreneurial community.

While the Batata Shop is available for catering now, eventually Clark would like to sell a product line and also open a storefront business in the city.

"As I build my infrastructure, I definitely wouldn’t mind selling the product as well as popping up," Clark says. "I really enjoy the experience coking, and others enjoy watching their waffles being made. I'm still continuing to build my sales and working to get my own commercial kitchen space."

While the idea for her food business stemmed from family and friends, Clark believes that now is a great time for anyone to start a food business in Detroit. She cites a supportive community, experienced food mentors and distributors, and networks like FoodLab Detroit as great ways to connect and get started.

- Written by Amanda Lewan

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