When Alice Foeller ’98 wants to promote the potential of her international enclave on the north side of Columbus, Ohio, she takes visitors to Tasty Hands, “a hole in the wall African place” with incredible food — and some issues with service, Foeller admits. With a little help in understanding how to appeal to an upscale customer, Foeller thinks Tasty Hands could be part of an authentically international dining destination in the Ohio capital’s Northland neighborhood, an economically neglected part of town.
The strip malls along Northland’s main thoroughfares are filled with multicultural mom-and-pop shops and ethnic restaurants. Foeller, who lives in Northland and grew up 2 miles away, sees the importance of supporting the area’s economic backbone — immigrants and refugees from Africa and South Asia.
Foeller, owner of the online marketing company SiteInSight and president of the Northland Area Business Association, is co-founder of Elevate Northland, a community development corporation. With help from Columbus-area backers, including Roger Blackwell ’66 PhD, the social enterprise plans to open a facility this summer that will include event space, a shared commercial kitchen, flexible offices, artist studios and a retail area where vendors can sell handmade goods from kiosks. Elevate Northland will also offer business support services. “We want to provide a safe place for people who are motivated to start something on their own to take a risk,” Foeller says.