Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Meet EatOkra, an App Highlighting Black-Owned Restaurants

For husband and wife team Anthony and Janique Edwards, their creation of the EatOkra app was a combination of both passion and timing. A Harlem native, Janique moved to Brooklyn in 2016. Excited and intent on exploring the borough, both Janique and Anthony were eager to seek out and support Black-owned businesses in the area. However, they quickly realized that finding those Black-owned businesses proved harder than expected.

“We were really seeking out Black-owned businesses to support during that time. And Anthony was also was really trying to level up his skills as a developer, wanting to build an app but just really not sure what he wanted to build,” said Janique. “And because we were having this issue of finding businesses — it wasn’t something that was super convenient, I kind of made this suggestion out of frustration that he build an app that would make it super simple to find these businesses.”

Janique and Anthony Edwards of EatOkra with son on a couch.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

After a series of trials and errors, Janique and Anthony grew this seed of inspiration into EatOkra, an app that highlights Black-owned restaurants. While the app uses modern technology, EatOkra is also a social justice mission, keen on the idea that promoting Black-owned businesses is critical for the community. Since launching in 2016, EatOkra has grown exponentially and now proudly features more than 11,000 black-owned eateries, providing a platform for users to discover some truly delicious and unique local restaurants.


How The EatOkra App Works

chicken and sausage gumbo
Lauri Patterson/Getty Images

So how does EatOkra work? To start, the majority of the information for restaurants and businesses on EatOkra is crowd-sourced, meaning the app relies heavily on user recommendations. For instance, if a user comes across a restaurant they think is a good fit but not already in the database, they can recommend it on the app. After this recommendation is received, a team at EatOkra then vets the restaurant and fills out any information that wasn’t included by the user. As part of the user experience, people can also leave reviews and ratings for the various eateries. Finally, another helpful feature of the app is its ability to bookmark restaurants for future visits. This is especially helpful for people traveling to different cities. By bookmarking places in advance, EatOkra makes it easy to find and try restaurants in a completely new locale.

As an app, EatOkra has an elegant design, with a defined focus on usability. The app is designed to be geolocation aware and will pull up all viable restaurants in its database within a 20-mile radius. From there, users can then also filter, search, or query for specific restaurants or cuisines, which can range from Southern American barbecue to Haitian cuisine. This streamlined and user-friendly setup has been a big hit for EatOkra. In 2021, that success was awarded when EatOkra was one of only five apps to receive the Apple “Trend of the Year” Award for successfully connecting people in a meaningful way.

EatOkra’s Plans for the Future

For Janique, promoting Black-owned businesses is not only a macro issue — it’s also an issue she has experienced in her own family. Previously, Janique’s older sister had owned a nail boutique in Harlem, quickly growing the business into a valued part of the community. Unfortunately, despite its beloved status, the business was short-lived. After only three years, the nail boutique shut down, a closure that deeply affected Janique.

“I got a firsthand opportunity to really see someone who was really ambitious, who had this dream, and wanted to do great work in her community, unfortunately, fail at it because of lack of resources, lack of education and lack of mentorship,” said Janique.

Two people studying a computer in a classroom.
Lagos Techie/Unsplash

After seeing this effect on her own family, Janique wanted to be a part of a solution that sought to alleviate these obstacles. Because of a historic lack of resources for the Black community, this tale of a local establishment closing down is unfortunately all too common. Often, many Black business owners and restaurateurs are disadvantaged when it comes to sustaining their ventures because of a lack of mentors and resources. To tackle this systemic problem, Janique and Anthony are launching an ambitious project within EatOkra — an e-learning platform. Essentially, this will be a series of educational classes designed to give small Black-owned businesses the tools they need to succeed. To start off, the first class on the e-learning platform will be on CEO mindset, focused on the psychological and leadership perspectives needed to run a successful business. But this initial foray is just the beginning — subsequent classes will feature topics on everything from marketing to menu development. Together, Janique and Anthony plan on launching the first phase of this e-learning platform in 2022.

Its precisely this unique and dynamic mix of technology, community, and respect for heritage that makes EatOkra a standout technology app. Empowerment and ownership are both carefully balanced and championed by EatOkra, an understanding that’s even relevant by a close examination of the app’s chosen name — okra. This humble vegetable with African origins is an essential ingredient in the American South, with deep roots in African American history.

“Okra was a seed that was brought over by the slave trade. Okra is a really popular ingredient in Southern cooking, dishes like gumbo and stews. EatOkra is really a nod to our heritage. It’s really a nod to our family, history, and culture,” said Anthony.


Editors' Recommendations

Hunter Lu
Hunter Lu is a New York-based food and features writer, editor, and NYU graduate. His fiction has appeared in The Line…
A huge Le Creuset Cyber Monday sale just started — from $10
Carrots in the Le Creuset Signature cast-iron skillet.

Cyber Monday deals all over the place right now, with many of the biggest retailers discounting some popular products. You’ll appreciate this if you’re in the market for some holiday gifts for the chef in your circle, or if you're looking for something new for your own kitchen. Amazon is having Cyber Monday Le Creuset sale, with all sorts of high quality cookware seeing discounts and prices as low as $10. Skillets, Dutch ovens, mugs, and other kitchen items are available in this sale, so click over to Amazon and add something by Le Creuset to your kitchen.

Why You Should Shop the La Creuset Cyber Monday Sale at Amazon
Le Creuset is a premium cookware brand. It makes high quality cookware that both looks great and cooks great. It’s one of the most sought-after brands when it comes to a discount, as its premium reputation brings with it premium prices. But with this Le Creuset sale at Amazon you can save on cookware across the board. The Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Oval Dutch Oven regularly costs $445, but

Read more
Slow cooker recipes: Cincinnati chili is easier than you think
Put it over spaghetti, we dare you
Cincinnati chili

This time of year, everyone loves good slow cooker recipes. You want one that warms, comforts, and greets you with a delicious scent the moment you walk through the door after a long, chilly autumn day. The slow cooker is a beautiful thing for that very reason - not only does it provide a nearly prep-free meal, but it's the gift that keeps on giving with its delicious promise of a warm and hearty meal through tantalizingly exquisite aromas filling the house all day. And while we all love common slow cooker recipes - a meaty pot roast or Kung Pao chicken, sometimes what we're craving at the end of the day is something a bit out of the ordinary. That's why we love this recipe for Cincinnati chili.
Cincinnati chili is tremendously unique in the world of varying (sometimes competing) American chili dishes. Its flavors are warmer and more exotic, which makes sense as its origins aren't American at all, but Greek. In the early 20th century, Greek-Macedonian immigrant brothers John and Tom Kiradjieff opened a restaurant in Cincinnati. Their chili was flavored with traditional ingredients like chili pepper and cumin but also included more familiar Mediterranean ingredients such as allspice and cinnamon. The deliciously comforting dish caught on, and Cincinnati chili quickly became a regional favorite.
This spicy chili is traditionally served over spaghetti with a generous topping of shredded cheddar on top. Depending on the locals you happen to ask, the best way to enjoy this chili is over spaghetti, with or without cheese, kidney beans, and/or grated white onion. Within these barriers, one cannot go wrong. Just make sure to always, always use your fork to cut the pasta into bite-size portions. Twirling is absolutely out of the question.

Cincinnati chili recipe
While spaghetti is the traditional choice for serving Cincinnati chili, another popular option is pouring a generous heap over hot dogs. If you ask us, this is the absolute best way to make chili dogs.

Read more
Ice cream bread is the lifehack your internal fat kid needs
You like ice cream. You like bread. Why not mix them together?
ice cream bread recipe 6289263 1920

Social media's hottest new recipe trend that's floating around is one that we deeply, truly approve of. Naturally, things like butter boards and new coffee concoctions are always appreciated by those of us who love a fun culinary trend. But there's something about this one that just really tickles us pink - ice cream bread. Maybe it's the tempting simplicity of the name that combines two of the most wonderful things in the world. Maybe it's the fact that the recipe itself is almost simpler than the name. Maybe it's the sprinkles. Whatever the reason, ice cream bread is our new favorite trendy treat.

When we saw this video making the rounds, we decided that we needed to give ice cream bread a try, and the results were pleasantly surprising.

Read more