You don't need to wait until Black History Month or Juneteenth to support Black-owned restaurants; every day is a good day to find an amazing meal and strengthen your local community at the same time.
According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry "has suffered the most significant sales and job losses since the COVID-19 outbreak began." And the coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately affected Black Americans. We can help these businesses continue to recover.
Here are seven easy ways to use your purchasing power for good.
1. Download the app EatOkra
EatOkra, an app co-founded by Anthony Edwards, Jr. and Janique Bradley, helps users easily find and get connected to Black-owned restaurants in dozens of American cities. According to EatOkra's website, the app's creation was inspired by ongoing discussions the founders conducted with business owners across the country. You can also order delivery or purchase condiments from other Black-owned businesses within EatOkra. The app has a 4.8-star rating in the Apple store.
2. Follow hashtags like #Blackownedrestaurants
Many people are heading to social media to share curated lists of Black-owned restaurants in several areas.
People are also posting shareable spreadsheets of their favorite Black-owned restaurants.
3. Try a Black-owned vegan restaurant
Looking to incorporate more plant-based items into your diet? Black Vegans Today is a website dedicated to providing vegan and plant-based news, recipes, tips and information from Black chefs, journalists and other leaders in the food industry. Check out the website's list of 35 Black-owned vegan restaurants across the country.
4. Follow websites and blogs that highlight Black-owned businesses
Husband and wife team Tony Lawson and Shantrelle Lewis created Shoppe Black in 2015 to curate content related to Black business ownership and culture. The website features thousands of business profiles and hundreds of interviews with Black entrepreneurs and professionals from the U.S. and around the world.
5. Do a simple Google search for your area
If you live in a major city, you'll probably be able to find at least one article dedicated to Black-owned restaurants, cafes and bars in your area by doing a simple Google search (try "city name + Black owned restaurant"). You may even be able to find local blogs or social media accounts dedicated to smaller Black-owned businesses, such as Black-Owned Brooklyn, Black Biz DFW, Black Owned Maine, Black Chicago Eats, Black-Owned Northwest Arkansas and more.
6. Utilize Yelp's search engine
Users may search the term "Black owned restaurant" and enter their location (by zip code or city name) to find a list of Black-owned restaurants based on user comments and business bios. The ratings site still recommends that users check a restaurant's website to verify ownership. Yelp has also compiled a collection of Black-owned businesses across the country, including restaurants and other food purveyors. On Thursday, the company announced in a blog post that it will be launching a tool within two weeks that will give businesses the ability to identify themselves as Black owned on landing pages.
7. Download the app Mapstr
Mapstr is an app that allows users to keep track of their favorite places around the world, tag them and make a permanent location pin on their very own map. By creating a tag such as "Black owned" for restaurants or other businesses, users may create a list of their favorite Black-owned businesses, including food services, to view at any time. Personal maps can then easily be shared among friends through the app. Mapstr also created custom maps showcasing Black-owned restaurants for several cities across the country. You can view the new maps without downloading the app.
This story was originally published in 2020 and has been updated.