Black Restaurant Week in the DC area and Baltimore kicks off on Monday, July 18. The celebration of Black-owned businesses, many of which are offering specials for the occasion, runs through Sunday, July 31.
Launched in 2016 by Houston-based founders Warren Luckett, Falayn Ferrell, and Derek Robinson, Black Restaurant Week, LLC is a national tour that’s entering its third year in the DC area (a locally founded organization, DMV Black Restaurant Week, started in 2018 and is now an official city fixture in November). The current restaurant week highlights African American, African, and Caribbean cuisines. Over 90 participating restaurants include wild-caught seafood cafe FishScale in Shaw, Tex Mex restaurant Austin Grill in Springfield, downtown DC’s French-Ethiopian restaurant Mélange, and New England-style spot All Set Restaurant & Bar in Silver Spring. This year, the organization is also bringing in more food trucks and sweets shops, including 2 Southern Belles food truck and Baltimore donut shop Cloudy Donut.
“It’s the diversity that makes Black Restaurant Week so interesting and unique. Everything from barbecue to vegan—there’s literally something for everyone,” says Ferrell. “That’s what I really love about it.”
Rather than fixed-price promotions, restaurants dictate their own specials; diners find them listed on each spot’s profile in the directory. Black Restaurant Week will also feature a series of events, such as a kick-off mixer on July 19th at The Delegate in Mt. Vernon Square.
This year, the celebration stretches beyond seven days with the slogan “More Than Just a Week.”
“’More Than Just a Week’ speaks to our commitment to support the Black culinary community throughout the entire year,” says Ferrell.
In addition to participating in Black Restaurant Week, Ferrell encourages people to hire Black-owned restaurants for catering and private events, invite friends and family to Black-owned food spots, and support Black Restaurant Week’s non-profit, Feed the Soul Foundation.
Last year, the organization says it generated a 15 percent sales increase across all participating restaurants in the United States and Canada. In the past two years, Feed the Soul Foundation has provided $52,000 to DC-area restaurants. The campaign will also support Black-owned restaurants by providing small business grants and business development training from Feed the Soul Foundation.
“The restaurants are really on their own right now, a lot of the government support is gone,” Ferrell says, referring to pandemic-era support programs like the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. “It’s really our charge to the community to help keep our local businesses open.”