No matter what one’s race, religion or political affiliation, something that all people have in common remains the desire to enjoy a good meal.
And to showcase some entrepreneurial spirit, ingenuity and delicacies guaranteed to make even the most discriminating diner lick their fingers and salivate, the D.C. metropolitan area participated in DMV Black Restaurant Week, Nov. 4 – 11.
The weeklong event brought Black restaurant owners, managers, chefs, caterers, thought leaders and financiers into one room to discuss options for entrepreneurial ventures and continuing education.
In the words of the planning committee, because D.C. has developed into a global city, Black restaurants week were connected with allied partners. Perhaps most important, the week not only promoted restaurants, but sought ways to give greater awareness about existing restaurants and close the knowledge gap that currently exists for many Black restaurant owners.
With the week drawing to a close, the showcase events remains a conference and panel discussion on Saturday, Nov. 13 featuring Black-owned food trucks and an awards brunch on Sunday, Nov. 14 spotlighting owners, managers, politicians, tastemakers and non-profit organizations who will be recognized for their laudable efforts at blazing new inroads while supporting local businesses and the community 365 days a year.
And for the record, with the right business plan and outreach to the community, these hopeful business tycoons can make considerable profits. Consider that sales at food-service and drinking establishments rose 1.3 percent in July 2018 to $61.6 billion, according to the US Department of Commerce.
Furard Tate, co-founder for the week of celebration, education and mentorship, said providing greater resources for Black entrepreneurs served as the impetus for the fledgling event.
“We felt the need to establish a Black Restaurant Week in D.C. to bring awareness to how many Black-owned restaurants there are in the area and to direct owners to the resources available to help ensure their business is successful,” he said. “It is also our aim to direct current and prospective restaurant owners to local resources that will help them to grow their businesses and to provide them with management tools and information related to best practices.”
“We are very proud to have the support of several D.C. government agencies, as well as the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) that agreed to offer a free one-year membership to all of our participants and to offer best practices from their members who are industry leaders. However, we believe city officials need to do more to assist existing businesses, as opposed to focusing on efforts to bring in new businesses. Impact starts at home.”
“Patrons provide a powerful force behind the success of any business, be it a restaurant, barbershop, hair salon or a fashion outlet. It was important for us to bring awareness to Black-owned restaurants, but we know many restaurants in the area are hurting. We want them all to succeed.
“The week ends with a conference at UDC where we will help consumers to understand the cohesive impact they have when they support a local or a Black-owned business. Also, UDC offers a master’s and PhD programs and other degrees related to the hospitality industry.”
“As the owner of Inspire Hospitality, I recently launched Love Muffin a continental breakfast catering company that offers workforce development and training for young people to help move them into permanent jobs. It is about people reaching out and collaborating that makes things happen.
Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes, also chairperson for Washington Informer Charities, explained her decision to serve as a sponsor for the week’s many informative and engaging events.
“The adage, ‘Information is power,’ reflects why the Washington Informer Charities (WIC) agreed to support Black Restaurant Week,” she said. “WIC is a non-profit that focuses on literacy. Restaurant owners need relevant information and resources to ensure their success, and they need to be literate about the rules and regulations that control how they do business.”
“We are to be a part of this awareness effort because we know how important it is to have a vibrant and diverse community of restaurants in every community across D.C. and surrounding areas,” she added.