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Rabble Coffee rebounds with new owners, fosters same inclusive culture

An interview with co-owner Jessica Tellstrom
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Posted at 8:44 AM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 08:44:13-05

INDIANAPOLIS — A beloved Indianapolis coffee shop recently rebounded with new owners after announcing its closure last summer.

In July, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued on with no ending in sight, businesses were forced to shift into creative measures. Others had to cut costs and, unfortunately, jobs. And, the most disheartening for the small business industry, some shuttered altogether.

Rabble Coffee was one of the local businesses that were added to a list of dozens that closed their doors this past year. However, the original owners of Rabble were transparent in their search for new management and ownership to take over, making a call-out on social media that garnished almost 40 responses.

Cue Jessica and Mitchell Tellstrom. A couple who decided to put all bets on the table and shoot their shot as the new Rabble Coffee owners.

"We live five blocks away ... and we used to go to Rabble all the time! Mitchell has been a barista since he was a teenager and always wanted to have his own shop," Jessica said.

As a self-described "little misfit family" it was just about a perfect fit for the literal rabble house. Jessica said she's been in love with Rabble since it first opened at 2119 E. 10th St. in 2015, and she and her husband knew instantly they wanted in.

About two months after being offered the company, the Tellstrom's opened up shop. Although they've had a slight change in decor, the pair decided to keep the same name.

"I've always been a really outspoken person, and I grew up really poor, and so I've always just been like, 'This is what I believe in. I don't care if you believe in it.' And ... it's funny, my grandpa used to call me a little rabble-rouser or a hooligan, and then I thought it was awesome that the coffee shop down the street was named Rabble," Jessica explained.

"It just fits us really well. Mitchell's like an old-school, punk Dad, that's grown up ... and I'm an art school dropout so it just really works!" She laughed, jokingly.

Rabble's trademark in the community has always been one of inclusivity. The new owners say that's not going anywhere.

"Being in our neighborhood, we have to be a little bit more mindful of the fact that it's gentrified and how do we still like be respectful of that, you know?" Jessica noted. "I've got a few organizations to get in touch with ... and we've done some donations to this organization and like this one, but now it's about how can we can pair up with others too?"

The couple looks forward to possibly pairing with several local organizations, one, in particular, being the Indiana Women's Prison. And will soon have local artists work on the coffee shop walls.

The pair wants Rabble to be a gathering place for folks to have meetings, and most importantly, to be a safe harbor where people can feel comfortable being them.

"As a mother of a kid with multiple severe disabilities, I also want people to understand that the disabled community is also just constantly ignored," Jessica said.

"There's more to inclusiveness and inclusivity ... And it's not something that really is talked about a lot," Jessica explained. Her son Olin has had several heart surgeries and is on the autism spectrum. "It's really isolating to be that parent and have absolutely no one to talk to you, no one to talk to about any issues. So I want to be a place where we can hold meetings for that kind of stuff."

Most recently, the Tellstrom's have partnered with the Indiana Chapter of Black Deaf Advocates, The Little Timmy Project, and have offered health care and essential workers free coffee if they bring in their COVID-19 vaccination card.

Jessica says of healthcare workers, "We owe them everything."

"I feel like I strive to really be uncomfortable if that makes sense. Like if I'm uncomfortable, I'm learning about things that I'm not used to knowing about, and that is something that I find to be my passion and is really important."

Rabble Coffee
2119 E 10th St
Monday - Friday: 6a - 3p
Saturday - Sunday: 8a - 3p

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