Fresh baby food maker plans first retail shop in Castleton

A local fresh baby food producer plans to expand production and open its first retail store near Castleton Square Mall, the company announced Thursday, adding 15 jobs in the process.

Cafe Baby LLC expects to spend $191,200 to lease and equip its new headquarters at 5945 E. 86th St. The 1,200-square-foot space will house a commercial kitchen for production, storage for inventory and fulfillment, and retail space.

The company ships its fresh baby food across the state and has been looking for a location to open its first retail shop. It eventually plans to distribute products nationwide.

Jeannie Marrugo, along with her mother, Sherri Sego, launched Cafe Baby in 2016 after having a baby. Marrugo wanted to make her own baby food for her daughter, Camila, but couldn’t find the time while working as an architect. Concerned about preservatives in jarred baby food, she found fresh baby food difficult to find, so she decided to launch her own company to fill the void.

She and Sego puree, package and flash-freeze the food they make and sell it online. They got their start at farmer’s markets and have been operating out of the Circle City Industrial Complex, 1125 E. Brookside Ave., in Indianapolis.

Marrugo and Sego were also participants in gBETA Indy’s Spring 2019 cohort. gBETA offers a free, seven-week program for early-stage companies like Cafe Baby to help build consumer awareness and establish the industry-specific metrics needed to become candidates for angel investment or full-time accelerators.

The shop in Castleton is expected to open in March and will sell fresh baby food plus unique items for both babies and mothers. The company also offers baby food subscription boxes.

The company plans to begin hiring immediately for kitchen production positions followed by sales, marketing and operations associates in March, eventually totaling 15 new jobs by 2023.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered Cafe Baby up to $95,000 in conditional tax credits based on the job-creation plans. The incentives hinge on the firm’s ability to meet hiring goals.

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