An event highlight Black restaurants in several major cities across the nation will make a stop in Florida for the first time.
Warren Luckett, Falayn Ferrell, and Derek Robinson started Black Restaurant Week in Houston, Texas five years ago. It was so popular, they went from one week to two. The team also expanded into major cities like Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.
Originally, Black Restaurant Week was only going to highlight restaurants in Orlando.
“It was really called Central Florida Black Restaurant Week, but we said let's just do the entire state," Derek Robinson said. "Falayn has really big ties into the state of Florida. She went to FAMU and she has lots of family here, especially in the Tampa Bay area.”
Robinson says because of the pandemic, their corporate sponsors took care of restaurant registrations. He says normally participating restaurants see a 20-40% boost in sales. Robinson wants those restaurants to make a profit, but also expand people's idea of what Black-owned restaurants bring to the table.
"Black Restaurant Week is more than just shrimp and grits and more than just chicken and waffles," Robinson said. "We do tap into the vegan space, we do tap into the Caribbean space, and the African space. It’s just an opportunity for you to follow your fork and expand your palette."
Black Restaurant Week runs through December 6. On Thursday night, 7th + Grove is hosting the kick-off event called "The Dish," where participating restaurant owners will discuss the ups and downs of the industry. ABC Action News reporter/anchor Jasmine Styles is moderating the panel discussion. Organizers are asking attendees to wear a mask and practice social distancing.
Local participating restaurants include:
The Cookie Monster Cookies5226 S Dale Mabry Hwy. Tampa
Mr. B's Southern Cuisine 3401 N Nebraska Ave., Tampa
7th + Grove 1930 E. 7th Ave Tampa
Ava's Lowcountry Cuisine 112 Flagship Dr., Lutz
Copa 1047 Central Ave., St. Petersburg
Eggs Up Grill3920 U.S. Hwy-301 N., Riverview
M&R Cafe Southern Cuisine 3322 E Osborne Ave., Tampa
Kay's Kitchen 11124 N. 30th St., Tampa
Island Flavors and Tings 1411 49th St. S., Gulfport
Loaded 1901 Drew St., Clearwater
Shnookum's BBQ 1575 S. Fort Harrison Ave.
Bradley's Family Restaurant
You can find the national directory of restaurants featured in Black Restaurant week here.
Black Restaurant Week also recently launched its non-profit called "Feed the Soul Foundation." It's a restaurant development fund targeting restaurant owners who are 55-years-old and older, veterans, part of the LGBTQ+ community, or formerly incarcerated. Florida restaurant owners are encouraged to apply. You can do so until January 5, 2021 here.