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Idea into Fruition: Black Restaurant Week

DMV Black Restaurant Week is set to take place Nov. 4-11. Curated by three of the DMV’s own entrepreneurs, Andra “AJ” Johnson, Dr. Erinn Tucker and Furard Tate, this event will kick off a full year of continuous support and further education of participating restaurants.

“We wanted to set up a program that wasn’t just a week,” Johnson said. “The food and beverage partners that are registered are getting access to the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s resources and becoming members as well, so they can have access to services year-round. We’re doing quarterly programs as well as training programs throughout the year. The partners also have access to us and our resources as they need.”

A bar consultant and author of the upcoming book “White Plates, Black Faces,” she addresses the African-American experience in the service industry and the present lack of opportunity for success. “This week is not just about celebrating and bringing people to the business. It’s really about creating support and elevating these businesses so that they are able to survive and compete.”

Dr. Erinn Tucker, a professor at Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies teaching hospitality, was the one to bring the idea into fruition. “There is such a large opportunity for food and beverage jobs that are a huge part of the local economy,” Tucker 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.”

DMV Black Restaurant is the first of its kind, as co-founder Furard Tate defines this venture as “an inclusive process.” Running Inspire Barbecue on H Street before it closed and became condos, he is very well-versed in regards to how the restaurant community needs to be supported for viability.

“This is a process to keep these restaurants sustained. Together we create the food environment in this city. It’s not just about Black or any other race, for that matter. Collectively we’re working together to improve our community, so we need to respect one another,” says Tate. “D.C. is a melting pot, and most peoples’ culture is represented through their food. Therefore, we want the customers to be engaged in the culture and environment of the restaurants that they go to, not just the food. Our goal is to create these safe spaces where everybody can come together.”

“No business can be successful only marketing to one type of people,” Johnson adds. “That’s indicative of POC-owned restaurants and those that are not POC-owned. It is important to understand that in order for businesses to survive, it takes the whole community. The city is a collective. Not that our spending dollars are not important. It’s that we have to also understand from the business-owners’ perspective. We have to be able to reach multiple people in order to survive and create that space to keep people coming back.”

To support DMV Restaurant Week and the founders’ mission of creating a more inclusive space in the restaurant and hospitality industry, visit dmvbrw.com for updates on participants, scheduling and find ways to get involved.

Also, visit Bhlen.com to download the BhlenApp and see all restaurants participating in DC Black Restaurant Week and to geolocate them during the week.

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