WASHINGTON — After what seems like a marathon of summer restaurant weeks in the DMV, another similar promotion takes place this weekend, specifically highlighting the District's Black-owned restaurants – with special menus and events.
Black Restaurant Week, LLC is kicking off its celebration of African-American, African, and Caribbean cuisine in the Greater D.C. region from Sept. 18-27.
From food connoisseurs, culinary influencers, local residents and out of town guests, Black Restaurant Week participants will be able to experience pre-fixe brunch, lunch and dinner menus at some of the District's Black-owned restaurants like Matchbox, The Kitchen Jerk, Halfsmoke DC, Hen Quarter, The Rub, Big Buns, and Austin Grill.
Furrard Tate, co-founder of DMV Black Restaurant Week, said each of the 50 participating restaurants will be offering their own promotions from discounted dishes to happy hours and special menus.
“Take an opportunity to explore your city through all the Black restaurants," Tate said.
Tate said on the same street where two participating restaurants, HalfSmoke and Fish Scale, are located, two bars have already closed since COVID. Tate said he hopes this week can raise the profile of struggling restaurants, and help keep them from meeting that same fate.
"When a restaurant closes, the staff loses, the community loses and a piece of our culture gets washed away," he said.
At HalfSmoke, service manager Dominque White said the restaurant has been creative about adapting its offerings and incorporating more takeout, but it hasn’t been easy.
“We’re digging deeper because of COVID," White said. "We need everyone’s support at this particular time in order to thrive in our community. Our community is very diverse. The people that work here are diverse and we would like people who come through the door to continue to be diverse as well.”
Entrepreneurs China Adderly, also known as Chef Chi, and Samantha Lebbie- Adderly started The Kitchen Jerk, offering elevated Caribbean fare two years ago.
“I left my job of 19 years working for Metro to start this because it was a passion," Adderly said.
Lebbie- Adderly said their small takeout business has so far remained steady through the pandemic, and they’ve been helping other local restaurants adapt their take out menus through the pandemic.
"China and I are both from Northeast D.C.," she said. "And we’ve seen our community need this kind of thing, which is good food."
Restaurant week participants will be able to vote on their favorite restaurant and the most popular restaurant will win a "Black Plate Award." Those participating can also submit photos of their receipts from restaurants in order to enter a raffle to win various prizes.
(So save your receipts, because you never know what you can win!)
The organization is placing emphasis on helping the Black restaurant industry through the coronavirus pandemic. Due to the pandemic, Black Restaurant Week LLC is also waiving all participation fees for restaurants.
“Supporting the entire culinary industry, from farm to table, is necessary for providing more opportunities for the whole community to thrive,” Black Restaurant Week founder Warren Luckett said. “From the increased exposure for black-owned restaurants on our new national website to the professional business guidance gained from the educational events, Black Restaurant Week helps businesses expand its customer base and receive resources for ongoing success.”
For more information about Black Restaurant Week, its events and participating restaurants, visit the organization's website.
Here's an interactive map and list of participating businesses across the D.C. Metro area for Black Restaurant Week