Black Restaurant Week started as a single event in Houston, but now it’s expanding all over the country. This week, it’s taking place in the Midwest for the first time.
Due to COVID-19, as well as unrest over racial issues, the celebration comes at a time of widespread calls to support local and Black-owned businesses.
Derek Robinson, co-founder and managing partner of marketing for Black Restaurant Week, said the event began out of a desire to highlight quality restaurants that people may not have known about.
“We got started doing that, just really exposing the neighborhood and surrounding areas, hidden gems that you would not necessarily find on an average day,” Robinson said. “Definitely wanted to help give these other restaurants in our backyard an opportunity to shine and just showcase their culinary skills.”
In Missouri, Black Restaurant Week has about 75 participating restaurants, showcasing places that serve everything from vegan food to soul food, to vegan soul food.
Kimberly Vincent, founder and head chef of Topknotch Vegan Vittles in Kansas City, serves exactly that. She decided to participate in Black Restaurant Week in order to educate more people about veganism.
“A lot of people think they can’t have certain things, but they can,” Vincent said. “We’re doing things you would think couldn’t be vegan, but it is.”
Vincent wants more people to know that vegan food can be delicious, and that it can help with a myriad of health issues. Vincent herself went vegan about two years ago, and it helped solve gastrointestinal issues she was experiencing. She said after going vegan, she felt like a “brand new person.”
Black Restaurant Week has been designed to help restaurants and catering businesses like Vincent’s get their message, and their food, to a wider audience. It has even helped restaurant owners themselves learn more about the places in their area.
“It did show (restaurants) that I didn’t know existed here in Kansas City,” Vincent said. “I think that helps in Kansas City a lot.”
The event in the Midwest started on Friday and runs through Sunday.