By Lily Curlin
Inspire Community Cafe is working to give back to the Memphis community, but its mission is about more than just providing customers with good food.
Inspire Community Cafe opened in early January in Binghampton at Sam-Cooper Boulevard and Tillman Street. Owner Kristin Fox-Trautman, along with co-founders Terrace Whitley, Tevan Whitley, Charlena Branch and Jackie Chandler, began Inspire as a mobile cafe in 2017. This year, they were finally able to move to a brick-and-mortar location, allowing them to pursue their goal of creating a gathering-place for people in the community.
One way that Inspire spreads the love is through its employee profit-sharing model. Ms. Fox-Trautman explained, “10 percent of our net profit, after we pay our bills our basic costs, will be divided up among our staff. If the business is successful, the employees will not only be paid their normal wage, but also earn additional income. There’s an additional incentive to really have ownership in what we’re doing.”
Economic justice and activism are central to Inspire’s mission, but the focal point of their vision is to create a space for community. Ms. Fox-Trautman said, “having a gathering place for people was really critical to what we wanted to do. I've been working in the nonprofit community for over 20 years so having a place where people are working to do good things for the city to connect [was important]. We have lots of people from different non-profits around the city come here to meet, connect, and exchange ideas. That's part of our vision. We wanted to create a comfortable and inspiring space.”
The food at Inspire is just as good as the mission. The menu is filled with healthy, Memphis-inspired, ‘clean’ eats, from BBQ chicken quesadillas with homemade pineapple salsa, to “The Greenline” — a kale smoothie. Ms. Fox-Trautman said, “one of my favorites is Costa Rican black beans and roasted sweet potato over quinoa, but we’ve gotten very positive reception to all the menu items.” Personally, I can say that the matcha latte is superb, and I will be returning for more.
The food still serves a greater purpose. Ms. Fox-Trautman explained: “We’re very proud to be a part of the Binghampton community, a neighborhood that has not had as much access to fresh and healthy food options, so we hope to provide those options to the neighborhood.” Ms. Fox-Trautman finished by saying, “We hope that the St. Mary’s Community will come here, eat here and support us.”