WASHINGTON — The increased calls for racial equality around the country have also led to an increase in local resources being shared on how people can support black-owned businesses in their neighborhoods.
If you scrolled through social media feeds you may have seen the hundreds of posts highlighting the long list of black-owned businesses in our area.
Po Boy Jim is one of those black-owned D.C. restaurants.
Po Boy Jim's Managing Partner, Rebecca Antoine, said they have seen the social media posts, as well as an increase in business.
“Yes we have definitely had an increase in business,” Antoine said. “And a lot of times people just don't know that we're out here, but we have had a great increase in business.”
Cork Wine Bar on 14th Street is also on the list of D.C. black-owned businesses, but co-owner Khalid Pitts said he hasn’t seen that surge of sales since the lists started circulating.
“We've seen an increase in the amount of attention on social media but not an increase in business,” Pitts said. “One of the things that I thought was very funny was no one knew we were a black-owned business. We’ve been here 13 years.”
Pitts said his business oftentimes gets credit for helping revitalize 14th Street but said it has not been around as long as some of the other staples like Ben’s Chili Bowl, which is just up the street. He said that’s why he may have fallen into a middle ground where people didn’t realize it was a black-owned business.
“What it takes to start a business, to get the funding, to get the resources and just to survive for any small business is extremely difficult. For someone of color it's even more difficult,” Pitts said. “Hopefully it's something bigger, that it's not just we should be supporting black-owned businesses, we should be supporting businesses, but let me take more attention for those businesses of color who have opened up because I understand their struggle has been much harder than perhaps some somebody else.”
As for keeping the momentum going, Kathy Hollinger, the CEO of Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, said it’s crucial that people encourage, share, promote and find opportunities to support black-owned businesses.
“When we talk about spending, have consideration about where that money goes” Hollinger said. “This is not a today and over the next week kind of thing, this is a very deliberate decision that as a leader of an organization has to be made and has to be taken serious going forward. It’s as simple and complex as that.”
“I think it's important because, you know, D.C. has changed quite a bit, and a lot of people may not know of some of the black-owned businesses here in the city that are doing great things and have great authentic food," Antoine said. "There are quite a few of us that are here."
“I’m excited about the whole movement in itself, and we want people to just come out and support and a good time at the same time in doing so. And we're here,” Antoine said.