'A Taste of Culture': Atlanta prepares for multi-week celebration of Black-owned restaurants
On a typical workday, Sean Davis, Chef of Golden Krust – Fairburn Commons, starts his food preparation at six every morning, cooking up Jerk chicken and a banquet of Jamaican Cuisine.
“We have about 60 to 80 pounds of oxtails, 35 to 40 pounds of curry chicken, 32 pounds to 35 pounds of brown stew,” said Davis. “I met a lady around the corner yesterday, day before yesterday, and she said oh man, I gotta come to get that chicken curry chicken; it is so good.”
Davis and staff hope to hear more praises sung on their cuisine when they take part in Atlanta’s 6th Annual Black Restaurant Week. The event runs from Aug. 6, Jamaican Independence Day, to the 20th.
The “week” helps introduce a number of culinary businesses and professionals to the community through a series of events and campaigns. Interested patrons can find local restaurants and food vendors on their website, which functions like a black cuisine directory.
Patricia Scafe, co-owner of the Fairburn Commons location with her husband, believes that the festivities are a great way to build exposure for the budding Golden Krust franchise, a New York-based Jamaican restaurant chain that offers 17 locations across the metro Atlanta area.
“As a born Jamaican, I am grateful, truly grateful, for this platform; that we can showcase small businesses like Golden Krust, which is one of the largest black privately owned restaurant franchises; and it happens to come from the Caribbean,” she said.
Atlanta is home to hundreds of black-owned restaurants, some dating back to the Jim Crow Era, and nearly every one in three restaurants in Georgia is black-owned compared to nationally, where the number is 9%, according to the National Restaurant Association.
Although the event started in Houston, founder and Morehouse alum Warren Luckett says he knew they had to bring it to Atlanta and anticipates what lies in store for this year.
“We’re going to be showcasing over 100 restaurants, from Kennesaw to Marietta,” he said. “It was really important for us to showcase restaurants not only inside the perimeter but also outside the perimeter as well.”
Luckett says he asks these restaurants to judge the effectiveness of the week on two things.
“Do you see a bump in revenue? And do you see a bump in foot traffic? And if they can’t answer yes to those two questions, then we’re doing those businesses a disservice.”
According to Tasha Belle Cyril, operator of Belle & Lily’s Caribbean Brunch House, the two-week-long celebration has been a blessing for her and many other Black business owners from day one.
“Black Restaurant Week feels like home; it’s comfortable to know that there are people who are like-minded who have your back in putting your product out there. Putting your business out there and getting people through your doors,” the Dekalb-based entrepreneur said.
This year’s showcase comes at a pivotal time when restaurants are trying to emerge from the pandemic years that saw many shut down, face labor issues and even struggle to get supplies.
Luckett states that after witnessing how the COVID-19 pandemic forced many vulnerable small businesses to close their doors, it became increasingly important for him and his business partners to use their platform to highlight as many businesses that are still standing – in the hopes that they will stay that way.
And while Luckett and staff cannot guarantee the outcome of support and revenue, they have put forth their best efforts to ensure plenty of black-owned restaurants and food trucks will be accessible for anyone in the surrounding metro areas who wants to get a taste.