Black Restaurant Week will come to Indianapolis for the first time. The celebration of local Black-owned restaurants will happen just in time for the National Urban League Annual Conference, giving hungry visitors — and residents — locally owned options for dining.
Black Restaurant Week will be July 21-28 and feature 15 restaurants. Restaurants will offer food specials and will receive promotion and a networking opportunity from the Black Restaurant Week organization. The National Urban League is the title sponsor for the event and will encourage conference attendees to visit participating restaurants.
“It’s really a great way to learn about other businesses in the local community you might not have been aware about before,” Falayn Ferrell, managing partner of Black Restaurant Week, said. “It’s celebration of food, of heritage.”
Special menu items, ranging from light snacks to full meals, for this week start as low as $10. Kountry Kitchen Soul Food Place will unveil a new dish: a southern fried lobster basket.
“It’s something new,” Cynthia Wilson, co-owner of Kountry Kitchen Soul Food Place, said. “We haven’t put it on our regular menu. This will be a good testing ground to see how popular it is.”
Those who attend the National Urban League Conference will receive pamphlets listing participating restaurants. In addition, the Black Restaurant Week organizers will also use social media to showcase the restaurants.
“There are a lot of Black-owned restaurants that don’t have the general revenues for marketing and advertising,” Tanisha Stewart, owner of Paleo Soul, said. “… Giving specific Black-owned restaurants an opportunity for promotion and letting folks know they exist just helps a great deal. Especially when you can reach so many people at one time given the number of folks expected to be in town during the Urban League conference.”
“Exclusive First Taste Happy Hour,” a networking event 6-8 p.m. July 22 at Michael’s Soul Kitchen, will give restaurant owners an opportunity to connect as well as give guests a chance to enjoy specially selected dishes. Black Restaurant Week representatives will discuss the state of Black-owned restaurants nationwide, and National Urban League representatives will preview events of the conference.
Que Alexander, owner of The Missing Brick, just opened her restaurant a few months ago, so she is excited to attend Exclusive First Taste Happy Hour. She hopes to meet influential people in local culinary scene and learn more about her new industry. The Missing Brick combines pizza with different styles of urban food, so Alexander will also be keeping her eye out for potential restaurants to partner with to design a new pizza.
“I do know I need a Mexican-style pizza, so I’ve got my eye on what we can do with that style,” Alexander said. “That’s a great staple in the urban community. We love tacos, so figuring out how I’m going to get a taco on a pizza is my next purpose. Hopefully, I can get that from Black Restaurant Week.”
Ferrell said that while Black Restaurant Week supports local businesses, it also ties into the National Urban League Conference’s theme of “Getting 2 Equal: United Not Divided.” Instead of competing with each other, the restaurant owners see each other as colleagues.
“Food, fellowship and fun are three powerful factors,” Stewart said. “To have them together in one, to have a great dining experience, helps forge great relationships. The fact they are stressing ‘United Not Divided’ speaks to the fact there is enough business for all of us to win. We are not necessarily competing against each other, but we all have an opportunity to have a huge slice of this pie.”
Contact staff writer Ben Lashar at 317-762-7848. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminLashar.
Attend First Taste Happy Hour
Black Restaurant Week’s First Taste Happy Hour is free and open to the public, but attendees must RSVP beforehand.
When: 6-8 p.m. July 22
Where: Michael’s Soul Kitchen, 115 E. Ohio St.
Restaurants participating in Black Restaurant Week
Black Restaurant Week will highlight the following restaurants:
3355 N. Keystone Ave.
43 9th St.
8215 Center Run Drive
3661 W. 86th St.
4189 N. Keystone Ave.
3145 W. 16th St., 4130 N. Keystone Ave. and 5610 Georgetown Road
1831 N. College Ave.
132 N. East St.
115 E. Ohio St.
7305 E. 96th St.
4361 N. Keystone Ave.
5523 E. 38th St.
325 W. Washington St.
140 E. 22nd St.
6404 Rucker Road