By Dezimon Alicea, Gary Crusader
Entrepreneurship is a growing trend in the Northwest Indiana area. I have done several articles on people who find the inspiration to begin or grow their businesses. According to Small Business Advocacy.gov, there are a little over 500,000 small businesses in Indiana. So it’s safe to say the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the Hoosier state.
Every business has its own story and its own plan relating to its growth and sustainability. Recently, I had the chance to sit down with one of Gary, Indiana’s premier small business owners. I say premier because she has found a market and has found success, which has resulted in enormous growth.
Joslyn Washington Kelly is owner and operator of J’s Breakfast Club located at 3669 Broadway, in Gary, IN. That name may sound familiar; Kelly previously operated the same establishment at a different location in the city.
Growth is a key indicator of success to any small business, and that is something Kelly, along with her team, has experienced. Over time it became evident that if she was going to accommodate her growing clientele, she needed to find a larger space. But the need and desire to move can sometimes be a hard task.
Kelly admits she was hesitant to take the steps necessary. “God will move you voluntarily or involuntarily,” she says. The search was on, and so was her prayer. She began writing down every desirable location she could think of in the city. It wasn’t until she drove past the cafe building at 3669 Broadway, formerly the Ohana Café that she thought she might just have the building she was looking for. After making a few calls, “the ball started rolling pretty quickly,” Kelly said. And in the course of three months, she was in a new building in a different location. The building is only a few blocks from the highway, and very close to the Indiana University Northwest campus.
In addition to a new location, Joslyn has a new flavor for her customers; no pun intended. A coffee bar was included for those who need that caffeine fix. This was also something that happened divinely.
Kelly says she wants to provide customers with quality coffee that was from the area. After interviewing many local coffee manufacturers, she found a perfect fit with a company in Northwest Indiana. This was a match made in Heaven, because Joslyn wanted to keep her providers local. She says after her initial conversation with the coffee provider she could tell it was going to be a flourishing and energetic business relationship.
Benjamin Franklin said, “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” By the looks of it, Kelly lives this creed, because she has not only opened in a new location. She is expanding further into the commercial arena.
Kelly has connected with local community college Ivy Tech, in Gary, Indiana to provide her products and services to the faculty and students. This was something else that just “sort of happened.” She was not looking to expand into the college campus, but after someone put the bug in her ear that it might be a possibility, she reached out to the proper people. After the initial meeting, she was able to present a proposal. And the rest, as we say is history.
I was curious to know, how does a woman who wears so many hats find balance?
Kelly has a lot to keep her busy. She thanks her family and friends for their unwavering support, especially that of her husband. Recently married, she is still riding the wave as a newlywed, and says her ability to keep everything in focus comes from her mate. He lets her know when to take a break and when to say no. As a woman on the go, Kelly appreciates and needs that.
I asked what’s next for her. Operating two locations and with a fresh marriage, what’s next for the woman who is taking this business community by storm?
Surprisingly, she wants the community to be on the lookout for a new restaurant. That’s still in the works, and residents couldn’t be happier for her. As we await the restaurant that is to come, we can have our palates blessed by visiting the new location. J’s Breakfast Club is at 3669 Broadway in Gary, IN. For more information call (219) 455-6959. Also, you can find Kelly on Facebook @JSBREAKFASTCLUB.