While on a trip to Six Flags Great America over a decade ago, Tavares Davis noticed people waiting in long lines for funnel cake. That’s when a business idea came to him, his wife said, and together they turned his vision into The Funnel Cake Man with locations in Orland Square mall in Orland Park and Southlake Mall in Merrillville, Indiana.
Tavares Davis, who studied at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago to become a chef and worked at different restaurants, “had a knack for coming up with creative ideas,” said his wife, NaKesha Davis. He told her he could make funnel cakes, pointing out the simple recipe and people’s appetite for the dessert.
A few nights later, Tavares Davis, who was fatally shot earlier this month, cooked dinner for his family and made funnel cakes for dessert, NaKesha Davis said.
“He was a risk taker. He was adventurous. I’m more the opposite end of that, sort of cautious,” NaKesha Davis said. “He was like ‘I’m really thinking about a business and people getting funnel cakes all year round.’ And I’m like, ‘No, just leave it. How will we start this?’”
They decided to open a funnel cake stand at the 2012 Bud Billiken Parade, and they did well, she said. So they set up the stand again the following year. From there, they advertised as a catering company to make funnel cakes for parties and gatherings.
As the catering requests began rolling in, Davis said she created a website and started filing paperwork to establish the business and its two locations.
“We both were really in amazement as to how far we had come because we started doing this in our home,” she said. “We just made a good team. It was his idea, his recipe for the batter, but then also me knowing how to legitimize the business and what paperwork and what things we needed to do to move forward.”
Tavares Davis, 41, was fatally shot Aug. 2 in the 15500 block of Drexel Avenue, according to the Dolton Police Department. Police said a 27-year-old and another man who were seen fleeing the scene in a Chevrolet Malibu with Michigan license plates both are persons of interest in the case.
Surveillance video shows the 27-year-old entering a white Mercedes-Benz SUV with other people, including Tavares Davis, police said. Tavares Davis was fatally shot and then thrown from the vehicle, police said.
Over the weekend, Dolton police located the 27-year-old man after receiving a tip, Dolton police Chief Robert Collins said Wednesday. The man “was brought to the station and was questioned,” Collins said.
The man was arrested and processed on a warrant from another police agency, Collins said, and “his part in the murder is still under investigation.”
On Aug. 2, the stores were closed and Davis said she was working from home when around 11:40 a.m. Tavares Davis told her he had to run a quick errand. After finishing a work meeting, she asked her children if they heard from their dad, and they said no.
She didn’t panic immediately because she said it was common for him to remember something that needed to get done for the business and take care of it or run into someone he knew and talk for a while.
At about 3 p.m., Davis called her husband a few times. He didn’t answer.
She was in a work meeting soon after, when her son told her that the police were at the front door. The officers left a note asking the family to call detectives “regarding a shooting,” Davis said.
The family decided to look at his location through his iPhone and found that Tavares Davis was down the street from their home, she said. They drove to the phone’s location at 155th and Drexel and they saw emergency personnel.
Davis said she then called police, who asked to meet her at her house.
Detectives told her Tavares Davis had been shot and was taken to Franciscan Health in Hammond where he died. He had been checked into the hospital as “John Doe” because his wallet and jewelry were missing, she said.
Because he got into the car willingly, Davis said it’s likely he knew someone in the car as an acquaintance because he knew a lot of people in the area. But, he never mentioned to her meeting with someone that day, she said.
Tavares Davis was wearing a custom chain with the letters TFCM, for The Funnel Cake Man, when he left the house, she said, and that was taken in the incident.
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The couple, who live in South Holland, had been working on the business together for the last decade, Davis said, so thinking about doing it without him is upsetting.
“I know that that’s what he would want. I know he would say, ‘Kesha, keep the business going. We worked too hard to leave it where it is or to stop,’” she said. “But, in my heart, it’s hard. It’s really hard. It’s difficult thinking about it.”
Tavares Davis came from humble beginnings, she said, and his goal was to ensure that he left something for their three children: Aaron, 20; KaLiah, 14; and Tavares, 14 months.
“That was always the goal, that he wanted to give his children the life that he did not have growing up,” NaKesha Davis said.
Tavares Davis “was a kid at heart,” she said, and loved to have fun. When he wasn’t working, he liked playing video games, spending time with his family, going out with friends and traveling, she said.
Most importantly, Tavares Davis was a hands-on, involved father and her best friend, Davis said. She’ll miss his warmth, his energy and the balance he brought to her life.
“We were best friends. We talked and shared a lot. We’ve been together for a long time, and we were really in a good place. He definitely is missed,” Davis said. “He brought the fun and adventure out of me.”