Black Restaurant Week has launched No Crumb Left Behind to help Black-owned small businesses across the country recover from the pandemic and connect them with resources.
BRW was founded in Houston in 2016 by Warren Luckett, Falayn Ferrell and Derek Robinson and has since expanded its reach to the Southwest, Southeast and Northwest regions to increase Black-owned culinary participants.
“With small businesses still recovering from the pandemic, it is important to provide as much support as possible,” Ferrell said. “The No Crumb Left Behind campaign speaks to our goal of supporting 1,000 Black-owned culinary businesses in this year’s Black Restaurant Week campaign.”
Black Restaurant Week LLC stresses the importance of systemic barriers faced by Black-owned restaurants, like the disproportionate access to business loans, for example.
The University of California, Santa Cruz, found that 41% of Black-owned businesses have shuttered since February, compared to 17% of white-owned businesses.
“Black-owned small businesses already face difficulty accessing capital to start their business and many owners are forced to use their personal savings, personal credit cards, personal assets or apply for loans with high-interest rates to open their businesses,” Robinson said.
“During times of economic downturn, it becomes increasingly difficult to operate a business that already has a slim profit margin.”
So, in partnership with SoCal Gas, Black Restaurant Week LLC- Los Angeles and multiple Black-owned restaurants will participate in an August showcase to build community awareness and help with the pandemic recovery process.
“Black-owned businesses play an important role in the livelihood of our communities. Food, especially from family-owned restaurants, serves as the social fabric that brings us together,” said Cedric Williams, vice president of customer service at SoCalGas.
“That’s why we have supported Black Restaurant Week, an important cultural initiative that celebrates the flavors of African American, African and Caribbean cuisine, since its launch in Los Angeles.”
Mark Walker is the owner of Downtown late night pop-up Comfort LA, which aims to serve soul food with a clean approach by using local produce that is fresh and organic.
Because the business relied heavily on takeout with its Downtown storefront location, it created a smoother transition when the pandemic hit.
But weekly, the storefront Downtown favorite had its challenges from inflating product costs to advertising and working with third-party food-delivery services like UberEats and DoorDash.
“Everyone’s in the same boat and just sort of struggling to stay afloat,” Walker said. “I found myself driving all over LA for cooking oil and chicken wings.”
Walker was introduced to Black Restaurant Week and the campaign by Alycia Hightower, the national food and beverage manager for BWR, when she came to the restaurant. He said it was her infectious attitude that persuaded him and his business partner Jeremy McBryde to take part in the campaign. They were introduced to resources they didn’t know were available.
Walker’s gas company offers a resource center for minority-owned business owners with classes and grants on different business aspects.
“They’ve been a huge help for us over the last year and have connected us with programs that we weren’t aware of that are in our own backyard,” Walker said. “There is definitely this collective benefit over so the best thing I can say is it’s just like family.”
Black Restaurant Week is Friday, Aug. 6, to Sunday, Aug. 15. For more information, visit blackrestaurantweeks.com.