By Lenore T. Adkins, Special to the AFRO
When was the last time you patronized a Black-owned restaurant in the DMV?
If you can’t remember, that’s a problem, says Furard Tate, one of three people behind the inaugural DMV Black Restaurant Week, running now through Nov. 11 at various locations and times.
Tate – along with cofounders Erinn Tucker, a professor of global hospitality leadership at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies and beverage consultant Audra “AJ” Johnson – launched the weeklong celebration to spotlight Black cuisine and talent from Black restauranteurs, bar owners, chefs, mixologists and others working in the food and drink space.
They’ll hold a conference Nov. 10 at the University of the District of Columbia centered on continuing education and best practices, how to own a business in the hospitality space, the legacy of Black chefs and where they are, Black people in wine and intergenerational wealth.
“We’re not only supporting the restaurants, we’re helping the young people which are tomorrow’s chefs develop a strong love and foundation for our food so that they can continue in the legacy . . . whatever their future may be in this hospitality industry,” said Tate, owner of
Inspire Hospitality and former owner of Inspire BBQ.
After 18 years, Tate’s popular restaurant on the H Street Corridor shut down in 2014 due to gentrification after a developer bought the land to erect condos. Tate is hellbent on making sure future restaurant owners don’t suffer the same fate and is intent about teaching them the importance of owning your building.
“The cost of business, the cost of real estate is making it even harder to open, right? So, if more restaurants are closing and very few are even able to open, we need to talk about this,” Tate said.
More than two-dozen participating restaurants are offering deals and three-course prix fixe menus through the week. They include Ben’s Chili Bowl, Calabash Tea & Café, Po’ Boy Jim, Hen Quarter, Blue Waters Caribbean & Seafood Grill, Bukom Café, The Caged Bird and Culture Coffee Too.
“We’re a collective,” said Tucker, adding that you’ll find a diversity Black cuisine from Ethiopia, Ghana and the South. The food table brings us all together. The dinner table has always been a place that welcomes everybody.”
The rest of the week includes a cocktail competition at Service Bar in D.C., a series of cocktails and conversations at various locations, a panel discussion with Black women chefs about the race and gender gap in the culinary industry, an after party, and awards brunch.
Lastly, attendees are also encouraged to take and post selfies on social media with their favorite Black-owned chef, bartender, and restaurant, using the hashtag #dmvbrw. Promoting Black restaurants and talent lets organizers measure the impact of the week while patrons seize control of the narrative.
“We can’t wait for other people to tell our story,” Tate said.