Elijah Townsend, a chef at Sage Restaurant (Houston Cofield/Daily Memphian)
The National Restaurant Association estimated that the number of Black owned restaurants increased by nearly 50 percent between 2007 and 2012. Cynthia Daniels saw a need to spotlight them and energize consumers in Memphis to support them. She started Memphis Black Restaurant Week and next month, the event will mark its fifth year.
Memphis Black Restaurant Week will take place March 8-14, featuring a total of 12 restaurants this year. The event not only offers tasty foods but it has made a real impact on the local economy. According to Daniels, “Over the past four years, a total of 44 restaurants were featured, bringing in a total of $1,025,000 in during the weekly sales and created 190 jobs.” Those numbers are staggering and in reality, represent only a small fraction of the economic impact that Black businesses can have on cities.
Over a four year period, Memphis Black Restaurant Week has brought in more than $1 million. There are 52 weeks in a year, however, a fact that Black consumers should think deeply about. If Black restaurants can create just under 200 jobs from a one week event, how many permanent jobs would be created if Black consumers were adamant about “eating Black,” every week? How many more millions would cycle through Black communities if we were to transition from event to lifestyle?
Memphis Black Restaurant Week is quickly approaching. Participating restaurants this year include Sage, Curry N Jerk, Bluff City Crab, The Office @ Uptown, Chef Tam’s Underground Café, The Waffle Iron, The Four Way, Robusto by Havana Mix, Flava House, Ballhoggerz BBQ, Phillip Ashley Chocolates & Café, along with A&R BBQ. This event has made a tremendous impact in its first four years and this year promises to be even bigger.