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Black Restaurant Week kicks off around Memphis

Memphis Black Restaurant Week is returning to Memphis for its 7th annual event, running from March 6 until March 12. 

This year’s event will feature 28 black-owned restaurants, nine of which opened within the last year. These 28 restaurants will feature 95 meals to choose from, as well as 20 restaurants that offer vegan cuisine. 

Memphis Black Restaurant Week was started by Cynthia Daniels in 2016 with the goal of bringing awareness to Black-owned restaurants within the community. 

“A lot of these restaurants are hidden jewels because they don’t have the same platforms as other competitors, so I wanted to help build a marketing strategy that could help these businesses,” Cynthia Daniels said. 

The event started with just 8 restaurants featured and raised $85,000 its first year for the restaurants that participated. Since then, Memphis Black Restaurant Week has brought in over half a million dollars in revenue for the restaurants that have participated since its creation in 2016. 

“I think people are more intentional about supporting black restaurants and minority restaurants in today’s age in comparison to 7 years ago. I think a lot of allies see the importance of supporting black businesses in the wake of all the social injustices that have happened in the recent years,” Daniels said when asked about what led to the success of the event.

One of the 28 restaurants featured this year is Sage, an urban chic restaurant located in downtown Memphis. Sage opened Nov. 2018 and has been part of Memphis Black Restaurant Week since 2019. Their goal was to give customers great service, food and an experience that makes them feel like they aren’t in Memphis, said co-owner Charles Nwankwo. 

“When you look at Memphis, there was really nothing black owned in the ‘mall’ downtown at the time of our creation. We wanted to try to establish something great for our community and provide representation of black restaurants in the tourist area downtown,” Nwankwo said.

Their involvement in Memphis Black Restaurant Week was an easy choice for co-owner, Rickey Johnson.

“I believe it’s a great event that allows businesses, such as ourselves, to be able to showcase and highlight the culture and different services we bring to the community and Memphis as well,” Johnson said. 

A newcomer in Memphis Black Restaurant Week, Sugamama Snoballs, opened in 2016 and will be featured in the event for the first time this year. Owner, Marci Clarke, said she brought a New Orleans inspired snowball business to Memphis with the goal to create more engagement with each other in the black community. 

She offers “one of a kind” snowballs, such as the Sugamama Specialty snowball, the “Ain’t It Mane” which is strawberry shortcake and banana pudding snowballs, and snowballs stuffed or topped with cheesecake. Her hopes for Memphis Black Restaurant Week are to “bring in new business and have a successful turnout.” 

The economic and social success that Memphis Black Restaurant Week brings to minority businesses all around Memphis will continue this year March 6-12 and will offer specials and deals for customers interested in supporting black businesses.

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