NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — Black Restaurant Week is presenting its inaugural campaign in the Southeast Region which includes Tennessee. The organization is expanding its participation from restaurants to food trucks, sweets, and more.
Black Restaurant Week was founded in 2016 by three friends: Warren Luckett, Falayn Ferrell and Derek Robinson. It began as a one-city food experience in Houston.
The mission is to celebrate African American, African, and Caribbean influences in the culinary industry, educate consumers on the abundance of cultural cuisines and dispel ethnic untruths.
In 2020, the organization showcased 670 Black-owned culinary businesses across the United States and generated an average of 34% sales increase. Black Restaurant Week supports restauranteurs, bartenders, chefs, caterers, and food trucks.
This is the first time Black-owned restaurants participated in Tennessee.
"Coneheads, this is a creation of my wife Jennifer and mine so what we do is we make waffle cones," said Marcus Buggs, "we fried chicken, shrimp or cauliflower, and then from there you choose one of our five house sauces and we'll toss together and they will make a chicken and waffle cone."
Owner, Marcus Buggs says he's been in business for about 16 months, Coneheads opened in Nashville on the last week of November 2019.
"We were still kind of fresh out the gate when actually the tornado came through the first week of March and came right through East Nashville, McFerrin Park, Cleveland Park, our neighborhoods right here," Buggs said.
Then came the COVID-19 pandemic.
"To be a new business, to have that kind of start and have it interrupted by COVID and not knowing where we're going to go or what the situation was going to be moving forward," Buggs said,"I'm glad that we're here in this position now and especially on the spot we're looking to move forward and expand our business."
Buggs says opening a restaurant was a no-brainier -- it's in his DNA.
"My mom owns a restaurant in Madison called Cal’s Country Kitchen, and just coming from that and being able to be here today and still carry that forward because I wouldn't be a black restaurant owner if my parents weren't black restaurant owners."
Bugg says campaigns like Black Restaurant Week help him and other Black businesses stay open.
"Just for highlighting this week this is, this is special and come out and see us," Buggs said.
According to a University of California Santa Cruz study from last year, 41 percent of Black-owned businesses shuttered in the early months of the pandemic compared to 17 percent of white-owned businesses.
"Not that people are purposely not trying to find us but having something like this to spotlight us and put us in their purview increases our business and increases culture for somebody who may not have known about us," Bugg said.
Coneheads is also adding a cocktail bar to its location which is set to open in July.
2021 Black Restaurant Week campaign initiatives and virtual events include, but are not limited to:
- Free entry-level business registration and inclusion in national culinary directory on Black Restaurant Week’s website
- Black-owned culinary marketplace retailing Black-owned curated food and houseware goods
- Aroma Culinary Business Conference a day-long business development conference
- Power of the Palate virtual national cocktail competition with Maker’s Mark
- NOSH Culinary Challenges include the “Vote or Pie” challenge and “The Pre-game” tailgate challenge engaging professional chefs and home cooks.
“The No Crumb Left Behind campaign is to ensure that we are helping as many culinary businesses stay afloat as the world recovers from the pandemic,” stated Derek Robinson, Black Restaurant Week Marketing Director. “We are adding more activation and working with additional partners to present programming to serve our full audience of restaurants, bakeries, caterers, chefs, and food trucks.”
Black Restaurant Week will host its restaurant week campaign