Memphis Black Restaurant Week (MBRW) is right around the corner, and there will be so many exciting options to choose from across the city.
MBRW is an annual celebration of black-owned businesses, with a goal of boosting awareness and bringing in new customers to support minority-owned restaurants around Memphis.
Participating restaurants are offering two-course lunches for $15 and three-course dinners for $25 for the whole week, providing an affordable way for Memphians to sample food from lots of different eateries without breaking their budget.
This year's featured restaurants include old favorites — like The Four Way, which has been a Memphis staple since the civil rights era — and notable newcomers, like Flava House, a restaurant and hookah lounge that opened its doors in late 2019. Other participants include Chef Tam's Underground Café, Curry N Jerk, The Waffle Iron, and many more.
Cynthia Daniels has been organizing MBRW since 2015 and wants people to know that MBRW has something for everyone.
- Cynthia Daniels
Memphis Flyer: What originally inspired you to launch Black Restaurant Week?
Cynthia Daniels: It was inspired by the opening of HM Dessert Lounge in November 2015. I had the opportunity to work with Chef Fran Mosley during that time, and business was very slow in the beginning. I thought it would be cool to create a food-themed event that celebrates black restaurants, the same way we have a Jewish Festival, Italian Festival, Indian Festival, and more.
This is the fifth Black Restaurant Week since you launched the first one years ago. How much has it changed or grown or evolved in the last five years?
It's grown outside of Memphis and is now a nationwide event in major cities across the country.
How do you choose which restaurants participate?
There's a mixture of Memphis staples involved and newer restaurants that need marketing support to gain more business.
There's a wide variety of food options across all the different participating restaurants — is that intentional? Do you try to get as much food variety as possible or does that happen organically?
Yes, I want it to be intentional. At times, black restaurants are stereotyped for only selling soul food, so MBRW showcases diversity among what's offered.
- Justin Fox Burks
What are some dishes or foods that you're most excited about or that you think are particularly unique?
Soul Rolls at Sage, peach cobbler nachos at Chef Tam's Underground Café, and sweet potato pancakes at The Waffle Iron.
Now that you have a few years under your belt, what do you think the future of Black Restaurant Week looks like in the next five years and beyond?
I feel like it will continue to grow outside of the Midtown and Downtown areas. We've expanded to include South Memphis and Orange Mound this year.
Do you have any particularly fond memories from Black Restaurant Week over the last few years?
It never fails that I can run into MBRW supporters during the year and they always tell me that MBRW introduced them to their favorite new restaurants. That proves the week was successful, and the success continues long after the weeklong event.
Do you have any message for prospective restaurant patrons who are thinking of coming out for MBRW for the first time this year?
I want to remind people that MBRW is for everyone! It's a celebration of food, and we embrace all ethnicities who want to experience amazing food and hidden jewels throughout the city.