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Memphis-grown Black Restaurant Week expands to nine new cities

Cynthia Daniels (middle) has taken her Memphis-centric restaurant week to a national scale.

After a successful first year, Memphis Black Restaurant Week is expanding to nine other U.S. cities under the vision and leadership of Memphis’ Cynthia Daniels.
 
MBRW launched in March 2016 when Daniels pinpointed the need to bolster black and minority-owned businesses in Memphis. In its inaugural year, the festival advertised special rates and plates at Mot & Ed’s, Onix, Dejavu, Scoops Parlor, the H&M Dessert Lounge, The Bistro, the Office @ Uptown and Evergreen Grill.
 
“I always noticed the big buzz around Downtown Memphis Dinning Week, which spotlights a portion of Memphis’ most well-known restaurants,” said Daniels.
 
“The only problem is, in a city where the majority is the minority, we tend to leave out a representative portion of our black restaurants and these very restaurants have grown to become hidden treasures.”
 
Building on contacts from her membership in the National Urban League of Young Professionals, Daniels partnered with a small group national leaders to launch Black Restaurant Week in nine additional cities: Atlanta, Birmingham, Ala., St. Louis, Lexington, Va., Washington DC, Orlando, Fla., Richmond, Va., Nashville and New Orleans.
 
“There is power in numbers. With a larger number of cities participating in BRW, it demonstrates the buying power of Black communities, where we are the majority,” Daniels said.
 
In 2016, MBRW consisted of eight participating restaurants, saw 3185 patrons in those restaurants and resulted in 38 jobs created and $85,000 in total sales. Daniels believes this ten-city campaign could generate $1 million dollars into black-owned restaurants, averaging $100,000 per city.
 
“Memphis Black Restaurant Week aims to counter economic disparity with fun and interactive solutions that engage, excite and ignite a deeper understanding and love of Memphis food culture while encouraging agency in the future of the city,” Daniels said.
 
“This effort provides minority-owned restaurants with marketing opportunities that are otherwise cost-restrictive with a goal promoting Memphis food tourism and multi-cultural engagement. Memphis celebrates different cultures with the Italian Festival, Jewish Festival, Indian Festival and more, so I created Memphis Black Restaurant Week to highlight restaurants in my community as well.”

The 2017 Memphis Black Restaurant Week will be held March 6 through 12. 

Read more articles by J. Dylan Sandifer.

J. Dylan Sandifer is a freelance writer. A Memphian since matriculating at Rhodes College in 2008, she has also been a contributor for the Choose901 blog. 
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