Food Weeks Help Black-Owned Restaurants Survive

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – While the pandemic has hit all restaurants hard, nationwide, black-owned restaurants were more than twice as likely to close as white-owned restaurants.

But KC Restaurant Week, along with last summer’s Black Restaurant Week, was a saving grace for Kansas City restaurants like Fannie’s West African Cuisine.

At the Troost Avenue restaurant, owner Fannie Gibson serves up a taste of West Africa, including dishes from her native Liberia.

“I just wanted to bring my culture to Kansas City. We haven’t had that here for a very long time,” Gibson said. “It’s so good that people can come here and try fufu for the first time and enjoy eating with their hands. And it’s people from all walks of life.”

Community support has grown since she opened her restaurant in 2018, especially since last year when Fannie’s first participated in KC Restaurant Week.

“It was the highlight of my career, of my life. It changed everything,” she said.

A few months later, Gibson received an invitation to participate in Black Restaurant Week, a national effort to highlight and support black-owned restaurants.

“We wanted to create a platform that was all-inclusive for them, for food trucks, for bakeries, because they don’t have the funds to create their own marketing campaign either,” Falayn Ferrell, Managing Partner of Black Restaurant Week , noted.

Ferrell helped launch Black Restaurant Week in Houston in 2016. She said she noticed that many black-owned restaurants were excluded from traditional restaurant weeks because they lacked a traditional restaurant structure.

“Most restaurants in the black community are your fast-casual counter service, they really don’t do the three-course, waiter-server business model,” Ferrell said.

The event has now expanded to all regions of North America. One of the goals is to highlight the diversity of cuisines within black-owned restaurants.

“Kansas City, you would think barbecue first, but we have a vegan restaurant, we have a yogurt shop. Like, there are different types of businesses and within these different communities,” Ferrell said.

At Mesob Restaurant and Rhum Bar on Broadway Boulevard, owner Cherven Desauguste gives Kansas City an authentic taste of Ethiopia and the Caribbean.

He said his participation in Black Restaurant Week last summer probably saved his restaurant.

“Without Black Restaurant Week in July, [it] would not be possible. Because a lot of black-owned restaurants, they were struggling. And I couldn’t see the reason why, even for us to stay open for another six, seven months, because we weren’t making any way,” Desauguste said.

Mesob bounced back so well that Desauguste was able to open a second restaurant next door. Taste Island Grill is a more fast-paced, casual experience, offering quick bites with a Caribbean twist.

“[There’s] something for everyone,” Desauguste said. “So it doesn’t matter if you’re vegetarian, if you’re vegan, you always have something to eat.”

The two restaurant owners hope to keep the momentum going with KC Restaurant Week this week and Black Restaurant Week coming in the fall.

“Without the city community, none of us will survive,” Desauguste said.

“I really think Restaurant Week, to me, is like a celebration like ‘we see you, we thank you…keep doing what you’re doing, we’re here to celebrate and support you. So I’m grateful for that or every year,” Gibson added.

This year, Midwest Black Restaurant Week will take place September 2-11.

The Black Restaurant Week organization is also accepting applications for its business grant. The deadline is January 31. More details on who is eligible and how to apply can be found on the their website.

Dining hours and menus for all restaurants participating in KC Restaurant Week, including Fannie’s, Mesob and Taste, are available at here.

Source link

About Raul T. Casey

Check Also

‘Freedom’ message from a student artist at 50 restaurants – School News Network

Great Rapids — “I am literally drawing in my sketchbook at the moment. Can I …