Cities across the country often host an annual "restaurant week" or "dining month" during which a number of local establishments will offer dining deals to bring in new customers and raise awareness about local businesses. Genese Jamilah, an Ebony staffer and the founder of events blog I Don't Do Clubs, is starting a restaurant month of her own. Notably, Jamilah's version focuses solely on black-owned businesses. Black-Owned Restaurant Month will take place this September in New York City.
Jamilah notes on her website that "Black Americans are just 13 percent of the U.S. population," but will have a "buying power of $1.4 trillion by 2019." She adds that not enough of the money is "flowing back into" black communities. So, I Don't Do Clubs embarked on a mission this summer to highlight black-owned businesses around the country. She says her lists went viral and that's when she decided to launch Black-Owned Restaurant Month, starting in NYC, as a way to introduce "foodies to new and exciting eateries" in the black community.
The black community in America is in the midst of very trying times and has found itself consistently in the headlines over the past few years. The hardships have spilled over into the restaurant community: In Detroit, many black-owned restaurants are being forced to move. Eater Detroit noted in January that within a few months a number of black-owned eateries closed or left the downtown area citing landlord disputes. Many believe that "there is something more than money at the heart of these feuds."
Jamilah isn’t the first person to create her own restaurant week to focus on a specific cause. Baltimore restaurateur Michael Tabrizi started a Homeless Restaurant Week where he eschews the city’s restaurant week in favor of working with local shelters to set up meals for the homeless at his restaurant three times per day.
UPDATE: Eater Portland notes that the Oregon city has Black Restaurant Day in the works for August 29 and 30.