When I spoke with Cynthia Daniels last year about Memphis Black Restaurant Week, she said she would be gathering data during and after the event.
The data is in. The event was a success.
Daniels says the inaugural MBRW of 2016 brought in $85,000 in sales and created 38 new jobs.
"That's insane," Daniels says. "People traveled from Little Rock and all over Mississippi."
After those kinds of statistics, she couldn't just let it be a one-time thing, so Daniels is back at it again this year with a longer list of restaurants and a special Sunday event to cap it all off.
"Last year, six of our restaurants were closed on Sunday," Daniels says. "It's a typical day off for African Americans."
Memphis Black Restaurant Week will run Monday, March 6th until Sunday, March 12th, with Sunday serving as a food truck festival at Clayborn Temple downtown.
"The response has been overwhelming," Daniels says.
Of the eight restaurants who participated last year, four are returning, and Daniels has 10 new ones lined up, including Two Vegan Sistas on Summer.
"We want to spread the knowledge of veganism as a healthy option," says one of the two sisters, Belinda King.
"Small businesses are the backbone of America, and we work very hard and don't have a lot of exposure," Belinda's sister, Bretta Blanton, says. "This is one way to put us on the map."
The Office @ Uptown will be returning after participating last year.
"It went extremely well," says owner Valerie Peavy. "We saw an increase in sales and awareness and a lot of traffic to our website, on Yelp, and on Facebook."
Each restaurant will offer a two-course lunch for $15 and a three-course dinner for $25. The Office @ Uptown will be offering breakfast and lunch options.
Other participating restaurants include: DeJaVu, HM Dessert Lounge, Perignons Restaurant, Scoops Parlor, The Choo, Cafe 7/24, Sweet Potato Baby, Underground Cafe, Best Friends Grille, Guilt Free Pastries, Cupcake Cutie, and Phillip Ashley Chocolates.
Soulful Food Truck Sunday will take place from noon to 6, with live entertainment both inside and outside Clayborn Temple and seven food trucks with vendors set up in the parking lot.
This weekend also marks Memphis' first Vintage 901 festival, a wine, food, and music event that takes place Friday, March10th through Sunday, March 12th at three different venues.
The festival, organized by Memphian Stephanie Ferreira and national wine celebrity Laurie Forster, will feature a wine-pairing dinner on Friday, a wine-tasting event Saturday, and brunch on Sunday.
"Stephanie came to see me at an event in Connecticut, and we've been working on this a long time," Forster says.
Forster is known as the Wine Coach and has appeared on Dr. Oz, Martha Stewart Living, ABC News, and Fox Morning News, and she authored the book The Sipping Point: A Crash Course in Wine. She is known for taking the snobbery out and putting humor into wine knowledge.
"It's about wine and laughter," Forster says. "I call it edutainment. We don't need our pinkies out."
Friday night's Opening Toast and Perfect Pairings event will take place at the Halloran Centre from 6 to 10 p.m. and will feature a three-course meal prepared by Restaurant Iris' Kelly English as well as a concert by jazz artist Monty Alexander.
Saturday, the festival moves eastward to the Creative Arts Building on the Fairgrounds for a Grand Tasting from 1 to 5. More than 90 wines will be available for tasting, and Forster will present a demonstration along with three area chefs.
And, since this is Memphis, a Sparkling Brunch closes out the event on Sunday at the FedEx Event Center in Shelby Farms, with bellinis, more wine tastings, food stations, and jazz gospel from Stephen Lee.
"I'm excited to be there and to share my wine talents with the area," Forster says.