Washington, D.C. to Celebrate Its First-ever Black Restaurant Week This Fall
The event will celebrate the city's top talent in food and drink, while addressing "the issues plaguing this industry."
This fall, Washington, D.C. will join cities like Houston, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and other culinary hubs across the U.S. in hosting a restaurant week that specifically showcases black talent in restaurants and bars, Washington City Paper reports. The city's Black Restaurant Week, which will run from November 4 to 11, was organized by Andra "AJ" Johnson, Dr. Erinn Tucker, and Furard Tate to highlight D.C.'s top chefs and mixologists while shining a light on the inequities that continue to the plague the industry, including longstanding barriers to ownership.
"DMWbrw will bring black restaurant owners, managers, chefs, caterers, thought leaders and financiers into one room to discuss options for entrepreneurial ventures and continuing education," reads the event's website, noting that there will also be a panel and awards component. "The week not only promotes restaurants, with your help we desire to go further to recognize existing restaurants and close the gap that exists in knowledge by hosting a conference and panel discussion on Saturday featuring black owned food trucks and an awards brunch on Sunday spotlighting owners, managers, politicians, tastemakers and non-profit organizations that are blazing the trail and supports the community 365 days a year."
Johnson—a bar consultant and author of the forthcoming White Plates, Black Faces—tells City Paper, "We're bringing in people from all over to come and talk about the issues plaguing this industry and more specifically this city with the lack of [black] ownership here ... I think five or ten years ago a Black Restaurant Week wouldn’t have existed at all."
The event's website cites a sobering statistic from the National Restaurant Assocation: African-Americans make up only 8% of restaurant owners and the same share of restaurant managers.
Dr. Tucker, a professor at Georgetown University, came up with the idea to bring the concept to D.C.. "There is such a large opportunity for food and beverage jobs that are a huge part of the local economy," she says. "It's a seven-day opportunity to expose African American and allied businesses and help them promote their business to the city by inviting in customers throughout the week."
The roster, which will feature restaurants, bars, and even food trucks, will be made available closer to November. As they continue finding participants, Johnson "is asking people to take a picture with their favorite black restaurant owner or chef and tag #DMVBRW," City Paper reports.