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Northwest Black Restaurant Week round-up

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Photo courtesy of La Spiga
Photo courtesy of La Spiga

From Feb. 25 to Mar. 6, Black Restaurant Week took over the Pacific Northwest. Dozens of African-American, African, and Caribbean eateries were celebrated across Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.

This year marked the second tour of Black Restaurant Week's campaign in the Northwest. In total, 44 restaurants across Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia participated.

Through the summer and fall, the event will come to 15 US and Canadian markets, and over 1,500 businesses will participate.

During BRW alone, the organization reports an average increase in sales of 15% for participating restaurants in each region.

Image courtesy of Black Restaurant Week  

"More Than Just a Week"
Unlike most such campaigns, BRW also includes panels, awards, and other recognition for bars, catering, solo chefs, and food trucks. For example, its culinary showcase, "Nosh," helps connect restaurateurs to consumers and to each other.

"I'm really grateful for [having gained] some prominence for what I do, and I don't know if that would have happened without Black Restaurant Week," said Atlanta-based chef Ed Warner, the 2019 winner of BRW's Power of the Palate award.

Black Restaurant Week (BRW) was founded in 2016 by Warren Luckett, Falayn Ferrell, and Derek Robinson, a trio of marketing and culinary entrepreneurs who sought to aid the healing of Black communities through food.

For 2022, the chosen theme was "More Than Just a Week," representative of all of the work the organization performs beyond the weeklong campaign. BRW "goes beyond restaurants," said Luckett.

Robinson is the BRW team's marketing specialist. He and Ferrell co-own Fade Media, a digital marketing firm in Houston, Tex. They discussed their passion for providing Black business owners with exposure, recognition, and connections in order to connect the greater Black community to better food.

"I thought [Black Restaurant Week] was the perfect opportunity to support small businesses in the community, which I'm really passionate about," said Ferrell.

"A lot of small businesses just don't understand business from a marketing aspect," said Robinson. "They don't get the kind of exposure that we're providing them."

Robinson noted that when a business doesn't have the resources for self-promotion, or its brick-and-mortar location is undesirable, the larger population might never find it.

Ferrell added, "In most urban communities, it's like Popeyes, McDonald's. There are a lot of things we can cure in communities just by supporting the restaurants and supporting the culinary space."

Additionally, Luckett said the organization has set its sights on dispelling "misconceptions that people have about Black folks and about Black food."

During the initial stages of the pandemic, the team found their in-person operations stymied. They remained dedicated to their continued expansion, however, knowing that there are hundreds of Black-owned businesses they have yet to reach, and they continued to make waves online.

In lieu of its traditional programming, BRW launched its nonprofit, the Feed the Soul Foundation. Through large corporate partnerships with companies like Maker's Mark, Pepsi, GrubHub, and HBOMax, the foundation provided $250,000 to Black-owned culinary businesses in 2020. With ongoing grants, awards, and free business courses, the organization is busier than ever.

A Seattle Black restaurant directory
While the official campaign week for the Northwest region — which coincided with Black History Month — has ended, BRW encourages the public to support local Black-owned businesses and Black chefs all year long. Thanks to its scouting of Afro-eats in Seattle, we have some new ideas on where to spend our "flavor" budget next.

Photo courtesy of La Spiga  

On Capitol Hill, Osteria La Spiga's executive chef Sabrina Tinsley's dishes are a gastronomic tribute to the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, where her husband was raised. Her pasta is made in-house daily and paired with fresh seasonal ingredients from local market vendors. Tinsley is also a mentor and advocate for female chefs and chefs of color. Find out more or make a reservation at www.laspiga.com.

Photo courtesy of Taste of the Caribbean  

First Hill residents can enjoy a quick stroll to Jamaica at E. Jefferson's Taste of the Caribbean. From 3 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, you can find a combo plate of authentic Caribbean food, culture, and music all in one. Find photos, reviews, and menus at https://tasteofthecaribbeanseattle.com/.

Photo courtesy of Lil Red Takeout  

A trip down Rainier Ave. S will bring you by Lil Red Jamaican BBQ and Soul Cuisine (covered in last week's SGN), where you can find a unique array of specialties from Chef (James Beard Award semifinalist) Erasto Jackson. To order takeout or take a peek at the current menu, visit https://lilredtakeout.com/.

Photo courtesy of Delish  

Continue further south to enjoy highly-rated Delish Ethiopian Cuisine. The name says it all. It are known as "the best Ethiopian food in Seattle," according to the restaurant's website. Delish, the owner, and his wife also offer cocktails, vegetarian options, and a great ambience. Find their menu at http://www.delishethiopianfood.com/.

Photo courtesy of Black Star Kebabs  

Lastly, no need to travel to West Seattle for Black Star Kebab, even though it resides at the tip of Alki Beach. The Ghanaian food truck tours across Seattle, offering fresh, organic kebabs and sides, including vegetarian and halal options. Its current locations are posted daily at https://www.facebook.com/blackstarkebabs.

From West African jollof rice to plantain fritters and Texan BBQ, Seattle's line-up of Black Restaurant Week partners brings a comprehensive palette of Black culinary masterpieces to the table.

And its partnership with local restaurants is only just beginning. African American, African, and Caribbean businesses are encouraged to register on the BRW website for free (or at the premium level) to be highlighted in next year's Black Restaurant Week or if interested in year-round opportunities.

Learn more about BRW at https://blackrestaurantweeks.com/about/. Find the Seattle directory, including an interactive map and links to all aforementioned businesses at https://blackrestaurantweeks.com/brw-campaigns/united-states/washington-2/seattle-3/.