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Building Community: How 10 Black-led restaurants are giving back in challenging times

Across America, there is a rich tapestry of Black-owned restaurants and foodservice operations in all cities. Many don’t get the media attention they should. And those that do tend to be in the bigger cities, like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

With the renewed focus on diversity and inclusion this year, Restaurant Hospitality set out to put the spotlight on Black-owned restaurants outside the largest media markets. We looked for operators in all phases of their business — those who are just getting started, to multi-generational family-run pillars of their communities — in cities with less than 1 million in population.

The thread that pulls these restaurant operators together is that they are community builders. Each one has been working hard to give back to their communities in some way during this tumultuous year. Whether they fed those in need at the height of the pandemic shutdown, or they make a point of hiring the previously incarcerated, or they simply help people learn better nutrition, these restaurant operators are hanging on through this challenging year by helping others.

All of these operators said their businesses have benefited from the social justice movement that followed in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hand of Minneapolis police. In each of these communities, the operators say consumers are making a point of supporting Black-owned businesses. And that has helped these businesses weather the pandemic.

We wanted to hear the restaurateurs’ stories and share their voices. So here are 10 Black-owned restaurant operators across America offering a picture of how their lives have changed in 2020.

big-mama-web.jpgPatricia Barron

Big Mama's Kitchen and Catering, Omaha, Neb.

Read her story

Watch her video interview


Carleen King

Carmi Soul Food, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Read her full profile

Watch her video interview


Taylor McKinnie

Mizz ShakeSum, Akron, Ohio

Read her full profile

Watch her video interview


Tamearra Dyson

Souley Vegan, Oakland, Calif.

Read her full profile

Watch her video interview 


Ian Williams

Deadstock Coffee, Portland, Ore.

Read his full profile

Watch his video interview


Kenny Frasch

Hop Knot, Manchester, N.H.

Read their full profile

Watch their video interview


Eric Atwater

Atwater's Best BBQ and Soul Food, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Read his full profile

Watch his video interview


Celeste Gil

Chef Celeste Bistro, Baton Rouge, La.

Read her full profile



Rueal Braden

Blues City Donuts, Memphis, Tenn.

Read his full profile

Watch his video interview 


Zebbie Carney

Eugene's Hot Chicken, Birmingham, Ala.

Read his full profile



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