HOUSTON - Black Restaurant Week returns at a time that Black-owned businesses could use a boost.
As a national conversation continues to recognize the contributions of Black Americans, a national event, started in Houston, is bringing that mission into focus.
Even in the face of a pandemic, Black Restaurant Week is alive and well, and a perfect opportunity to remember how diverse our community is.
This year, the event features 60 food trucks, caterers, and restaurants representing a wide variety of tastes.
Lisa Wyche is among them. She started her catering business in 2005 and, later, expanded to a food truck. Her Gumbo Express Twisted Kitchen does most of its business working festivals, but they've all been canceled because of COVID-19. She's excited about the opportunity to share her cooking.
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"When they see the beautiful cuisines, how they're plated and they taste," she says, "It's a lot of hard work. It's a lot of love that you put into it."
That's exactly what organizers were looking for, when they conceived the program, in 2016, to showcase businesses that might, otherwise, have trouble getting noticed.
"Most Black-owned restaurants don't have the financial resources to pump into marketing, advertising, and promotions," says co-founder Falayn Ferrell. "We're able to come in and provide that platform for them."
On a sweltering Houston afternoon, aboard Jerrod Rector's Stuff'd Wings food truck, he was working to keep up with a growing lunch crowd that's willing to wait for a selection of wings stuffed with dirty rice, boudin, or mac-n-cheese. Rector's been busy during the pandemic, but he's grateful for the exposure that Black Restaurant Week brings.
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"It helps the economy of the Black community to grow even more, and to let people know that we exist," says Rector.
Proceeds from Black Restaurant Weeks go to help small Black-owned farms.
Houston's event runs through July 19, but it has expanded to 11 other cities and regions across the country that are scheduled through December.
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