Double 8 Foods provides a vital link to fresh foods for residents of the Near Northside of Indianapolis. Some might be surprised to find out that it is a locally owned family business, and is operated by the relatives of Zoltan Weisz, who was the first grocery store owner in the state to hire an African American store manager.
Last Wednesday, I sat down with the current President Isaiah Kuperstein, the great nephew of Mr. Weisz.
How long have you operated Double 8?
Mr. Kuperstein: A year after Mr Weisz died, so about 8 or 9 years now.
What does Double 8 mean?
The first store opened on August 8th. Also, it’s our wedding anniversary.
Do you use local produce?
Indiana Cantaloupes and other products when they are in season. We are in touch with urban gardeners and would like to feature more of them.
You mentioned starting gardens and composting on the phone. Talk a little more about that.
We will grow cabbage, green beans, tomatoes, and cabbage sprouts, which is a delicacy. This year they have been impossible to find in the United States. A cabbage sprout is what is left behind after you chop off the cabbage head. This will be at 2 stores, the one on Fairfield Avenue and the one on Illinois Street. We also will begin a composting program.
Any plans for expansion?
In this economic climate, you can never be sure. But our eyes are open.
How many customers per day?
In the thousands.
Are there any competitors?
There used to be more. Safeway and Kroger are still around.
Are you from Indianapolis originally?
No. I’ve lived all over the east coast: Pittsburgh, Baltimore, New York where I attended Columbia University, and Washington D.C. But I like it here. Indianapolis is a nice place, a good place to raise a family.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We would like to get the word out to get more of our customers to bring reusable bags. Not just for the environment, but also because it is a cost to us. This is getting better, though.
We’re also looking to add a rain garden around the Fairlfield Avenue store to clean the building’s runoff.
I’m personally involved with the Mapleton Fall Creek Neighborhood Association. The Midtown Loves Local people are big supporters of us as well.