Keisha Allen believes in the businesses of the West End. That’s the biggest reason why she has organized and presented the Taste of West Louisville as a pre-Derby event since 2015.
The Fourth Annual Taste of West Louisville featured 20 vendors, and took place at the California Community Center.
A few years ago, Allen had the opportunity to attend a “Taste” event at Churchill Downs. She came away with the idea to produce a similar event featuring West End businesses.
“I told my husband that we could do this in our community, and it would be a way to highlight the good in West Louisville,” she said. “I wanted to show there are real people doing real things in the West End.”
Allen, who holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Sullivan University, believes in the importance of education, and has used proceeds from the Tastes of West Louisville to fund more than $7,500 in scholarships for local high school seniors.
“Higher education is important, and students, even those with full scholarships, need some money to get them started in college,” she said.
In 2018, Kentucky State University offered a $500 scholarship, which the Taste matched, amounting to a $1,000 scholarship for a high school senior going to the Frankfort school.
Allen grew up in Jeffersonville, Ind., but spent much of her childhood in the West End, attending Galilee Baptist Church at 40th and Broadway. A self-professed “foodie,” she says she tries to be among the first to try new restaurants in town. And she promotes her vendors relentlessly, encouraging visitors to sample their offerings at the Taste, but to also patronize the businesses in the future.
“I hope to see this event grow, and I intend to do it for a long time in the future,” she said.
When she started the Taste in 2015, Allen created a non-profit entity, Uplifted Life, which proclaims as its goal to “promote positivity to the public. We encourage entrepreneurship and education.”
Allen said one of her goals is to make the Taste a networking event for everyone in the West End, and to allow residents to experience food and catering businesses that may not normally be located within their vicinity.
For the 2018 event, vendors represented a mix of culinary tastes, from barbecue and soul food to special teas and lemonade. The vendors all have a stake in West Louisville, and participate to help promote their businesses and their community.
In the future, Allen said she hopes to move the event to a location where she can serve beer and wine, in order to invite the many area brewers and distillers to participate. That, she said, could dramatically increase the size and scope of the event.
2018 Taste of West Louisville vendors:
- The Table
- Georgia’s Sweet Potato Pie Company
- Chichimommas Cuppycakes 13
- Christina’s Catering Services, LLC
- Mmmm Delicious Popcorn
- Lady J’s Lemonade, LLC
- Common Table
- Heavenly Hostess Cakes & Decorating
- The Banana Pudding Lady
- Red Barrel BBQ & CATERING
- Paradise Island TEA, LLC
- Gore’s Smokeout
- Mom and Me Treats
- Ginny’s Kitchen
- Wing Station
- Taste and Seay
- Rebe’s Gourmet Delights
- Vegan Soul
- Marinations Catering