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DMV Black Restaurant Week returns this fall from Nov. 3 to 10. The week-long event featuring dining deals and extensive programming spotlights black bar and restaurant workers, highlights black-owned businesses in the region, and seeks to empower more people of color to open their own establishments.
Similarly to the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s bi-annual restaurant week promotion, DMV Black Restaurant Week members offer discounts to diners throughout the week. Co-founder Andra “AJ” Johnson says that DMV Black Restaurant Week is more flexible because take-out eateries, cafes, caterers, coffee shops, wine bars, and other businesses that don’t fit squarely into the “restaurant” category can take part. Last year 32 establishments offered deals. This year, Johnson says, they’re targeting 50.
“DMV Black Restaurant Week membership provides affordable options for all hospitality businesses seeking exposure to their brands, which opens opportunities for diverse customer base and access to more resources,” Johnson says. Early-bird registration for restaurant sign-up ends Sunday and regular registration will remain open until Oct. 1.
Johnson, a longtime D.C. bartender and advocate for more inclusivity in the hospitality industry, is joined by co-founders Furard Tate, the owner of Inspire Hospitality, andDr. Erinn Tucker, the faculty director of the Global Hospitality Leadership master’s program at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies.
Programming for this year’s DMV Black Restaurant Week will include a cocktail competition on Nov. 4 featuring local bartenders who will showcase their signature drinks; a Business of Food and Beverage Summit on Nov. 6; tasting events featuring spirits from black-owned businesses; and an awards ceremony and dinner recognizing area culinary talent on Nov. 8. The theme of the dinner will be “conversations and cuisines of the African diaspora.” Tickets for the various events will be available through the DMV Black Restaurant Week website and Eventbrite in the coming days.
Johnson hints at some other new developments including a signature beer, which will be brewed in collaboration with several local breweries and released in time for the November event.
Since last year’s inaugural DMV Black Restaurant Week put on by Johnson, Tucker, and Taylor, Johnson says, “there’s definitely been an uptick” in terms of visibility for the D.C. area’s black culinary talent. “We see a lot more people being confident and taking that leap to get out there and do something they’ve wanted to do,” Johnson adds.
She emphasizes that while DMV Black Restaurant Week is only seven days long, the event is meant to serve as a kick-off for a year’s worth of programming to keep stakeholders engaged. “One of the biggest goals for this year is focusing on continued education of restaurants throughout the year,” Johnson explains. “We were going so so fast [in 2018] and it was only the three of us. This year, we have more time to sit back and see how we can give back fully in terms of what we have resource-wise throughout the year.”