She’s one of the most famous faces of the WNBA, an Olympian, and a humanitarian. Tamika Catchings has repeatedly conquered and beaten the odds on and off the court.
Since retiring from the Indiana Fever, she has had the opportunity to do what she loves, even more, connecting one-on-one with the community and being the proud owner of two Indianapolis neighborhood cozy cafés called Tea’s Me.
As a matter of fact, Catchings grew up with tea being a beloved drink within her childhood home. For their family, drinking tea together brought unity. “I would say one of the things that kept our family together was my mom. We would have teatime. I remember sitting around the dinner table, and my mom was really big on us being together and spending time with each other, especially because we all played sports,” the Olympian says.
Becoming the Owner of Tea’s Me Café
“It’s fun!” Catching explains. “When I got here 2005/2006, one of the fans heard that I like tea and told me that I had to check out this tea shop called Tea’s Me. I was like, ‘Tea’s Me?’ So, I went and fell in love. I fell in love with the tea. I fell in love with the space.”
“This space was just very cozy and welcoming and had nothing to do with basketball. It became my safe place. I would bring my computer and backpack and just sit in the corner and just vibe for as long as I could. It’s like going into an oasis. You leave your issues and all that’s going on with you outside the door. Having a space like that and going through basketball, it was a safe place for me to be.”
However, this home away from home became endangered and Catchings received some devasting news about her retirement. “The owner said he was getting rid of it. I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said well, we’re moving. I was like, why would he sell it? Why wouldn’t he just get a manager to run it because it doesn’t make sense to let something like this go.”
With counsel from her husband and prayer, Catchings made a well-thought-out decision. “I went home and I prayed a lot and I asked my husband, “What do you think about us taking over Tea’s Me? He said, ‘Well one thing I know about you is anything you put your mind to it will succeed.’ So, I said alright and went in the next day and asked Wayne (the previous owner) to send me the financials.”
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The Tea’s Me Community
As mentioned before, Catchings has always been very active in the community. Both Indianapolis Tea’s Me locations bring togetherness and programming to the Tarkington and Downtown areas by offering free group yoga on Fridays and book giveaways, Juneteenth celebrations, small business events and more.
“My sister and I, we have our own foundation called Catch The Stars. We focus on boys and girls ages 7 to 18. We provide programs around fitness and literacy and youth development.” Many of the youth work at Tea’s Me and are allowed to learn vital skills for success in life. “We hire high school students to teach them how to serve, how to be on time, and all the things you need as you grow.”
Despite all that Catchings has accomplished, she considers the foundation to be her greatest achievement. “I’ve been able to impact so many youths that are now adults and who have turned back and have given their time. We get a lot of people that have been a part of our program since 2004 that are on our volunteer team. They may not be here for every single event, but they come back and they want to come back. And a lot of the kids now don’t even know that I played but what they do know is the impact that we are making on their lives.”
What’s on the Menu
Tea is bountiful at Tea’s Me. They provide over 40 options of black, green, herbal, oolong and white teas. Some options include Moroccan mint, sweet lemon, ginger peach and cinnamon orange spice.
Besides tea, patrons can select from a variety of breakfast sandwiches, soup, salads or smoothies. Tea’s Me is the perfect place to come for a business meeting, hang out with friends, or be a peace with yourself.
The staff is service-oriented, and Catchings runs Tea’s Me successfully using skills acquired on the court. “Just like a player has to study the plays. Here you have to study the menu. If you are not efficient in the back making the food, then they have to get back there and practice. I want to push them not too hard but push them a little bit so they can be successful in the front or the back, which is what a coach does; they want to push you.
“Pat (Summitt) wanted to push me to be the best player but even more importantly the best person and so I push them to be the best here. We have meetings once a month, and we talk about things and how we deal with situations. All things that will apply for the rest of their lives, not just today.”
Catchings continues, “For me, this is about our community. It’s a place people feel safe going. We really do have a community. I love it. I love our people. I love who we serve. I love the community we built. I love our supporters.”