Kevin Blodger and Teo Hunter Credit: Courtesy Union Craft Brewing

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This year’s DMV Black Restaurant Week from Nov. 3 through 10 offers something special to sip on—a West Coast IPA called Building Bridges. The beer is a collaboration between California-based Crowns & Hops, and local breweries Union Craft Brewing and Aslin Beer Company

Union Craft Brewing co-founder Kevin Blodger first connected with Crowns & Hops’ Teo Hunter on Facebook. “Black beer geeks online have banded together through Facebook groups,” Blodger explains. There was talk of joining forces, together with Aslin, to create a series of beers that nod at diversity. They made a limited run of Building Bridges last summer. 

Bringing it back for DMV Black Restaurant Week makes sense. The second annual week-long event celebrates black-owned hospitality businesses and strives to create pathways to ownership for people of color. “It seemed like a natural fit, ” Blodger says. “Beer is for everyone, not just bearded white guys in flannels.”

He hopes that women, people of color, and individuals from the LGBTQ communities see the beer during DMV Black Restaurant Week and become inspired to either pick up a home-brew kit or reach out to a brewery to find out how to enter the industry. 

“The beer community is a very exclusive space,” echoes DMV Black Restaurant Week co-founder Andra “AJ” Johnson. “Breaking into the beer world as a woman is hard. Breaking into the beer community as a black person is really really difficult. If you don’t have a beard and a big old belly, nobody trusts what you’re doing. That’s where this came out of. We can touch a lot of people.”

Restaurants partaking in DMV Black Week will be encouraged to serve the limited-run beer.

Some will offer a discounted three-course meal similar to Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s biannual restaurant week while others will discount food and drink. Below are the participants so far. Johnson says they’re still taking sign-ups.

D.C.

Appioo Bar & Grill

Ben’s Chili Bowl

Bukom Cafe

Calabash Tea & Cafe

Culture Coffee Too

DCity Smokehouse

FishScale

Ben’s Nexdoor Restaurant & Bar

On The Rocks

Matchbox

Queeta’s Palace Chateau Remix

Ben’s Upstairs

Smith Commons

The Carolina Kitchen

Bin 1301 Wine Bar

The Caged Bird

Halfsmoke

Po Boy Jim

Wicked Bloom

The Village Cafe

Maryland

American Tap Room

Blue Waters Caribbean & Seafood Grill

KitchenCray Cafe

Jordan’s Bistro

Matchbox

Ruby’s Southern Kitchen

SoBe Restaurant & Lounge

The Carolina Kitchen

Virginia

American Tap Room

Ben’s Chili Bowl

Hen Quarter

Matchbox

Catering Companies

d’lish dish Catering

Revive Events

Torch Porch

Allied Partners

Dos Mamis

Busboys & Poets

These restaurants are not a comprehensive list of all black-owned restaurants, bars, and catering companies in the D.C. region. Some choose not to participate. “We have 180 volunteers and we definitely have called and emailed and invited restaurants that are not on our list,” says Furard Tate, another co-founder of DMV Black Restaurant Week. “We want everyone to participate, but we still give them love.” 

The fee to join is $425 for sit-down restaurants looking to offer a three-course meal; $225 for cafes, carry-outs, and caterers who discount their food by 15 percent; and $225 for bars and lounges who offer a 10 percent discount. Tate says he’s willing to “meet restaurants where they are,” and notes that he and the other co-organizers offer participating businesses year-round support. 

DMV Black Restaurant Week isn’t just about the restaurant meals. For the second year in a row there’s a slate of programming. 

On Nov. 4, eight black bartenders will square off in the R.R. Bowie Cocktail Competition at Ben’s Next Door from 6 to 10 p.m. Bowie founded the Black Mixology Club in D.C. in 1900 and served as its first president. The first drink mixologists must come up with is a drink that pays tribute to the The Foxtrappe Towne Club, which was founded at 1601 R St. NW in 1975. The second cocktail should be inspired by at least one trailblazing black bartender. Tickets are $25.

Then on Nov. 6, the The Business of Food and Beverage Education Conference will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies, where the third founder of DMV Black Restaurant Week, Dr. Erinn Tucker, is the faculty director of the Global Hospitality Leadership master’s program. It’s geared toward people looking to own their own businesses or those who already are owners and are seeking continuing education. Warren Thompson, the head of Thompson Hospitality, will be the keynote speaker. Tickets are $75. 

Also new this year, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie is sponsoring a ceremonial resolution that recognizes and honors DMV Black Restaurant Week.

“I’m always proud to support District-based small businesses, in particular businesses owned by people of color and women,” McDuffie says. “DMV Black Restaurant Week is an opportunity to support and celebrate our local black entrepreneurs, while enjoying some of the best restaurant and food service providers in D.C.”

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