Indy Like a Local: Stevi Stoesz Kersh

Who is Stevi?

Executive Director of Indianapolis City Market


Q. What career path did you follow to your current role?

I started my Indianapolis City Market career in 1994 when I was hired as leasing manager, then absorbed public relations and marketing responsibilities in 1996. I launched the Original Farmers’ Market in 1997 after two years of research and development to return City Market to its agricultural roots and preserve Indiana farmland. I left City Market in 2000 to open a boutique marketing and public relations firm in the Stutz Business Center, but continued to consult for City Market and manage the Original Farmers’ Market until 2002. I returned to ICM in 2008 as Director of Business Development and Public Relations. I was named executive director in 2011.
 

Q. What makes City Market a great destination?

Traveling to a public market in most cities means that you’re going to get a great, authentic look at the local culture. Indianapolis City Market is a unique, historic, democratic public space that welcomes all and acts as an incubator for entrepreneurs to test new products and develop skills. It’s always interesting to observe the mash-up of people engaging in so many different activities, from having a great meal to engaging in conversation with strangers, reading a book, playing a pick-up game of bocce, learning cooking skills in the demonstration kitchen, or enjoying live music. Our merchants and tenants really make the market special. From the YMCA and Indy Bike Hub to The Tamale Place, Circle City Soups, Circle City Sweets, Spice Box, Jack’s Barber Shop, Poke’ Guru, Tomlinson Tap Room, Gomez BBQ, and so many others, City Market represents a wonderfully culturally diverse culinary and services experience. Indianapolis City Market was part of Alexander Ralston’s original plat of the city dating back to 1821. The first building on the public market site was erected in the 1830s, and the current Market House was built in 1886. Immigrant populations primarily from Ireland, Italy, and Germany set up shop in City Market. ICM was the heart of the city, and remains the heart of the city today.
 
City Market

Q. What are some vendors you think people should know about? Who is doing something unique in the city?

City Market is proud to house some of the city’s most talented and decorated culinary artists. Roger and Cindy Hawkins, along with their sous chefs, are competing once again in the 2019 World Food Championships with Team Indiana–A Culinary Crossroads. Roger and Cindy are a culinary power couple who consistently garner lots of press and attention. I always admire Abbi Merriss’s creativity, and have loved watching her career blossom over the years.
 

Q. What entrees/pastries/beverages are some of your favorites from Market vendors?

I’ve been a vegetarian for about 35 years. Bringing in Three Carrots was a somewhat selfish maneuver, as I’d not identified a place in Indy that I could actually eat from the entire menu, and I knew that veganism and vegetarianism were strong movements around the country and in Indy. Documentaries like Cowspiracy, Forks Over Knives, and Food, Inc. shed a lot of light on harmful big ag practices and how they hurt not only animals, but the environment as well. The balance bowl from Duos is absolutely divine, and it’s packed with superfoods so there’s no guilt!
 
Farmers Market City Market

Q. I understand you founded the Circle City Soft Tails, an all-female motorcycle club. Where do you like to ride?

Some women riders find it intimidating to ride with groups of men, especially if those women are just learning to ride. I’ve been riding for about 15 years, but I founded the Circle City Soft Tails with three of my best friends as a way to make women feel more comfortable in the riding experience and to build camaraderie among female riders. While we aren’t as active as we used to be, we do schedule rides together and those who can join often do. I prefer to get out of the stop-and-go madness of the city, so long stretches in more rural areas appeal to me. Last year, my husband and I rode the M22 scenic highway in Michigan along the shoreline, which was magnificent. Much of Southern Indiana provides a beautiful backdrop for a one- or two-day ride while still staying close to Indy.
 

Q. Aside from City Market, where else in the city do you like to enjoy a good meal, and why?

I keep a running list of restaurants and bars that I must try on my phone, and the list is continually growing. Honestly, I’m so proud of Indy’s burgeoning culinary scene. Even the bar food scene has dramatically elevated over the years. I find that places like Twenty Tap and the Sinking Ship do a damn good job creating interesting, flavorful items – even vegetarian items! I often joke that if I had to choose a last meal in Indy, it would be from Twenty Tap: buffalo cauliflower, cheese curds, vegan poutine, the mushroom Rueben sandwich with seasoned fries with a great, local IPA. I really enjoy King Dough, Milktooth, and Bluebeard, and find a way to take guests there as often as possible.
 
Milktooth

Q. Any favorite coffee shops or bars? What makes them a favorite?

Naturally, I favor Mile Square and CATH Inc. in City Market, but I also really enjoy Calvin Fletcher’s for its unique neighborhood feel. I always know that I’ll run into friends when I walk into the quaint coffee shop, and I really love their commitment to serving local organizations. I’ve long been a Red Key Tavern gal. I often met friends there, as it was in my neighborhood for a long time, and original owner Russ Settles was always watching out for us. Long-time server Lana became one of my favorite humans, and sever Nora Spitznogle and I go back to my early days at City Market when she worked for CATH Inc. I always respect and follow the Red Key rules, and really learned to appreciate them as well. It’s more of a treat to visit Red Key now as I’ve moved farther away, but it will always be one of my favorite Indy haunts.

Q. Where might you take out-of-town visitors for an authentic Indy experience?

I’d start at City Market for coffee and breakfast, then hit the Cultural Trail on a Pacers Bikeshare to hit some of my favorite spots along the trail. Monument Circle and White River State Park, along with the city’s amazing museums, round out the experience. St. Elmo, Just Pop In, Hotel Tango, Black Market, Bluebeard, Silver in the City, Chatterbox, the Athenaeum, and the Madam Walker Legacy Center are great stops along the way.
 

Q. People love knowing about the hidden gems of a city. Care to reveal any of your favorite hidden gems in Indy?

City Market’s Catacombs are a hauntingly beautiful space filled with history and secrets of the city. The paranormal investigation demonstrations in October are really something to experience.
 
Catacombs

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