Love soul food and need a new place to go? We’ve got a city and a time for you. The destination? Memphis, Tennessee. When? March 5-11, 2018 for Memphis Black Restaurant Week.
Memphis Black Restaurant Week (MBRW), if you couldn’t tell by the name, is an opportunity for Black-owned restaurants to offer dining deals, bring in new customers, and raise awareness.
The first run, started by Cynthia Daniels (pictured above) in 2016, featured eight restaurants (DeJavu, HM Dessert Lounge, Onix, Evergreen Grill, Mot & Ed’s, The Bistro, Scoops Parlor, and The Office @ Uptown) and was developed while Daniels was employed as the social media manager for HM Dessert Lounge.
In her capacity there, Daniels says she was able to see behind the curtain and understand the difficulties that restaurants face when they don’t have the budgets to advertise.
“Memphis is a foodie town where we host an Italian festival, Jewish festival, Latino festival, and more. I felt that it was time to create awareness around minority-owned eateries and the idea of MBRW was born,” she says.
Daniels chose March because of the spring weather and the desire for people to step outside and truly enjoy themselves after a long winter. In the first year, MBRW boosted sales to restaurants by over $85,000.
This year, MBRW will feature 11 restaurants.The lineup includes:
- HM Dessert Lounge
- The Office @ Uptown
- Scoops Parlor
- Two Vegan Sistas
- Underground Café
- Lenny’s (Franchise Locations)
- Slice of Soul
- Laura’s Kitchen
- A&R BBQ
- The Waffle Iron
With each successive year, Daniels says, it’s great to see how MBRW brings out a diverse audience and repeat customers. These people — and the newcomers every year — make the goal of expanding MBRW each year a possibility. Beyond growing the number of participating establishments, Daniels says she hopes to use the momentum to create a restaurant consulting firm to assist minority-owned eateries year-round. This, she believes, is completely possible.
“The city of Memphis is philanthropic by nature, and diverse industries are growing here as more young people bring the best of their talents and pour their souls into this city,” Daniels elaborates.
She is already working on channeling that youth and energy through the #BringYourSoul movement, which she says has become a rallying cry for Memphians.
The success of MBRW isn’t limited to Memphis, either. Last year in Virginia, for example, Richmond Black Restaurant Week featured 19 restaurants and brought in almost $500,000 in sales. In 2018, RBRW will feature 30 restaurants.
For more information on MBRW or any of the other cities, check out the official website. If you’re heading to Memphis, you might want to check out the Tennessee Whiskey Trail after you’re done dining on delicious Southern food.