BELLAIRE, Texas - For Houston area diners, looking for a new place to try, Black Restaurant Week is back. Now in its 7th year, the event features almost 150 places to eat in the Houston, Galveston, and Beaumont areas. As participants look to grow their business and reach new customers, they each have their own story to tell.
One of them can be found along a busy stretch of Bellaire Boulevard, where JC Ricks is a tall man in a tiny kitchen turning out big flavors.
"I come from a fine-dining background, so we really try to put that care, that love, that technique into our dishes and food every day," he says.
Ricks owns the Dandelion Café with his wife, who started the place as a coffee shop, now serving a full menu of breakfast and lunch items.
This is the first time Dandelion Café has participated in Black Restaurant Week, offering a special shrimp and smoked-corn grits dish that complements the rest of the menu. For some, it might be a departure from the African American, African, and Caribbean flavors of many other participants.
"The main thing, for us, is just making sure that the food quality, and the food that I love to do, shines," says Ricks, "I love doing Creole food, I'm a first-generation African American, my mom's West African and I love West African food. That doesn't mean that I only have to do that, though."
Black Restaurant Week organizers say that's all part of the plan.
"It's been amazing to be able to share their stories with, not only people who look like me, but others who do not and be able to expand the palate as well," says event co-founder Derek Robinson, "That's really important, and what Black Restaurant Week is about."
For JC Ricks and his wife, they're thankful for the neighborhood regulars who come but hopeful that a few more might give them a try.
"People walk in the door, and nine times out of 10 we have a loyal customer who says 'This is the best breakfast that I've ever had'," says Ricks
Black Restaurant Week started in Houston, and is now a feature in 17 metropolitan areas across the country. It continues, locally, through April 10. To learn more, click here.