by Rob Taylor Jr.
Courier Staff Writer
The first “Pittsburgh Black Restaurant Week” is in full swing, and there are a number of Black-owned eateries that are participating in the promotion.
9 Cafe, CobblerWorld, Soil Sisters Plant Nursery, Uncle Rick’s Smokehouse, Veggies N’at, Soul & Sea, Shells Sweets & Treats, Good Eats, Blanket and Board, Casa Brasil, iEatClean Meal Prep Services, and Dirty Birds Chicken are the businesses involved in this inaugural effort to spotlight Black-owned restaurants. Pittsburgh is one of 15 areas where a “Black Restaurant Week” is being held. Other places include New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, the D.C. area, and even Toronto, Canada.
Black Restaurant Week was started in 2016 in Houston, Texas, by Warren Luckett, with co-founders Falayn Ferrell and Derek Robinson. The name of the organization, Black Restaurant Week, LLC, has supported nearly 700 Black-owned restaurants throughout the country.
In Houston, the trio would attend the city’s popular “Houston Restaurant Week” but, Ferrell told the New Pittsburgh Courier that “we did see a lack of presence from restaurants in our community” at the event. “We saw an opening and a need to highlight the Black culinary community.”
TERINA HICKS, right, is the owner of CobblerWorld, one of many Black-owned restaurants and eateries in Pittsburgh.
It’s already tough for Black-owned restaurants to keep their financial heads above water—when the COVID pandemic hit, however, many Black businesses across the country closed for good. Thus, now, more than ever, Ferrell said it’s important for her to do whatever possible to put Black-owned businesses at the forefront.
The aforementioned Black-owned eateries in Pittsburgh are getting a push this week via digital channels, and their business will be listed on Blackrestaurantweeks.com so that more customers across the country will know about them if they happen to travel to Pittsburgh. Ferrell said that she expects more Black restaurants in Pittsburgh to be on board by next year.
“UNCLE RICK” from Uncle Rick’s Smokehouse.
Black Restaurant Week, LLC, also has a non-profit arm, named the Feed The Soul Foundation, which provides financial support and other resources to Black-owned businesses. It was announced in May that the foundation awarded $250,000 to 25 businesses, including Fishnet in Baltimore, Soul Bowlz in San Jose, Meals from the Heart in New Orleans, and Bushwick Grind in Brooklyn. Each business was granted $10,000. Ferrell said the businesses were mostly interested in business expansion, standard operating procedures, menu consultation, advertising and marketing assistance, and financial literacy. She said they also expressed a dire need in two areas; access to capital and expert guidance on how to scale their businesses.
“A lot of them start a restaurant based off of passion, but they’re starting with limited resources or knowledge,” Ferrell told the Courier. “For a lot of them, Black Restaurant Week is the first time they’ve been part of a major marketing campaign for their business.”
Pittsburgh Black Restaurant Week officially began June 4, and ends June 13.
Ferrell said she hopes Pittsburghers of all ethnicities will financially support Black restaurants in Pittsburgh now and beyond June 13.