Memphis Black Restaurant Week returns, with estimated $2.5M impact on the menu

At any one time, Cynthia Daniels is planning four events simultaneously.

Currently among the items on the docket for the owner of the events group Cynthia Daniels & Co. are Memphis Black Restaurant Week, which kicks off March 5 and is bookended by the chef-focused Black Opulence on March 4 and the Soulful Food Truck Festival on March 12.

The annual Memphis Black Restaurant Week event, now in its eighth year, brings in an estimated $2.5 million in weekly sales and creates 300 jobs, she said.

“Memphis Black Restaurant Week propels people in front of different parts of the community who are just unaware of those restaurants. It gives them more visibility, it shares with people that it’s not just the same old type of restaurants, [that] there are people doing all types of cuisine in the black community,” Daniels said. “It’s amazing to see the amount of participation that increases every year.”

This year, there are 28 participating restaurants, including The Four Way, Mahogany Memphis, Biscuits & Jams, Evelyn & Olive, and SugaShack. Eight of the restaurants opened in 2022.

Daniels launched Memphis Black Restaurant Week in 2016.

“We started with only eight restaurants, which is so crazy,” she said. “And I had to pitch and really sell them on the idea, because it hadn’t been done before. I know I talked to more than eight, but there were eight of them that said, ‘You know what? I have nothing to lose. If you want to promote my restaurant, if you want to bring me more business, I’ll be a part of it.'”

These days, Daniels said she keeps abreast of what restaurants are opening. Oftentimes she’ll hear from restaurants that want to participate or from customers who tell her about an overlooked spot.

The City of Memphis Office of Business Diversity & Compliance is the title sponsor of the Memphis Black Restaurant Week. And, Daniels is teaming up with Kudzukian, the content provider, for a live show from Chef Tam’s Underground Cafe. And the radio station 88.5FM, The Voice Of MSCS (Memphis-Shelby County Schools), is also doing interviews at the restaurant during the week.

Daniels said the reach of Memphis Black Restaurant Week is immeasurable.

“I hope this event teaches people the economic impact when the community comes together,” she said. “We’re strategically spending money in a black-owned community. That money can allow [restaurant owners] to reinvest in their buildings and reinvest in their businesses. I’ve seen some people hire more staff. They’re able to purchase catering vans, new equipment. I want people to know it’s bigger than just you eating a meal. You’re really helping them expand their business with this week.”

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