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The Voice of the Black Community

Business

New website helps diners find black-owned restaurants
 
Published Monday, September 9, 2019
by Lisa Fitch, NNPA

More than 2,000 black-owned eateries are featured on the new internet-based restaurant locator, eatblackowned.com, which launched June 21 intending to support black-owned restaurants.

“There’s only one thing that everyone in this world has in common: we all love great tasting food,” creator Edward L. Dillard said. “We have soul food, vegan, BBQ, Caribbean, seafood and more listed on the site.”

A professional truck driver for a company out of New Jersey, Dillard has been on the road for 15 years, and travels across the country four or five days of the week. “I didn’t like the direction of the country,” he said in a recent phone interview. “I wanted to do more to support lack-owned businesses, but I was always gone. I don’t spend money on clothes, accessories or shoes. The majority of my money was going to food.”

There already are some existing websites promoting black-owned businesses in general, but they don’t have a lot of restaurant listings. Dillard was inspired.

He spent nearly five months conducting research, collecting the names and addresses of more than 2,000 restaurants in the U.S. Then he completed the website design. Working as a one-man show, Dillard collected the restaurant pictures and website links to complete the project for launch. So far, the site includes 94 restaurants in New York, but only 35 within a 25-mile radius of downtown Los Angeles.

With the popularity and general necessity of food, why aren’t there more black-owned restaurants? “Access to capital,” explained Veronica Hendrix, who participated in a panel discussion on food at a recent LA chapter meeting of the National Association of Black Journalists. “It takes a lot to start a restaurant in terms of finding a location, working with the leasing company agreement, and overhead costs. I think that’s why so many of them are choosing alternative ways of creating a presence in the community. Food trucks, pop-ups, becoming personal chefs, cooking for small groups — just looking for alternative ways of raising capital.”

Nearly 60 percent of restaurants fail within their first three years, according to recent studies of business startups. Restaurateurs have to set realistic goals, conduct market research and analysis, and have an original concept with good food.

The late Leah Chase, whose restaurant, Dooky Chase, served as an important New Orleans meeting spot during the civil rights movement. Dooky Chase was named one of the 40 most important restaurants of the past 40 years by Food & Wine.

It takes a great deal of work to evoke such a place and create such feelings. To that end, restaurant owners work especially hard. Eatblackowned.com hopes to assist them on the advertising front.

Businesses can post a eatblackowned.com listing by completing a form online, which asks for the name, location, contact information and other details of the establishment. Company logos and images can also be added, along with a restaurant description.

“There are two options: basic listings and featured listings,” Dillard said. “Featured listings are paid for and they have several benefits over basic listings. If anybody searches, you’ll be ranked at the top of the first page.

“I hope this website will get more people to support black-owned businesses. There’s a huge racial wealth gap in this country. We need to do everything we can to build ourselves up.”

 

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