You might remember Black Restaurant Week from three years ago, when it came through Dallas for the first time. H-Town expats in North Texas might recall Black Restaurant Week’s Houston runs, where it all started back in 2016. Whatever your familiarity or lack thereof, you can get (re)acquainted beginning today, March 12, through March 21.
Black Restaurant Week is nine days of dining through the flavors of African American, African, and Caribbean cuisines. Participating restaurants around Dallas (so far) are Vinetti’s, South Dallas Café, Harris House of Heroes, Burger IM, Pangea (one of our Best New Bites in Dallas), Wings World, Turkey D.A.M., and Ten 01 Bistro.
Warren Luckett founded the event with Falayn Ferrell and Derek Robinson to disrupt the systemic barriers faced by Black-owned restaurants. “Most restaurant owners use personal savings and credit cards, and when they are getting loans, interest rates are typically higher,” says Ferrell. That makes matters especially tough “when you already have such a slim operating margin.” Most businesses don’t have PR folks to share news, events, or specials, either; social media can be a chore and a barrier, too. And according to data collected by the University of California-Santa Cruz, 41 percent of Black-owned businesses have shuttered since February 2020 (but have since rebounded a bit), compared to 17 percent of White-owned businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ferrell also says a lot of these places don’t have a formal dining model, but rather casual or counter-style takeout. “That’s kind of why we started. We’re being left of out the conversation of the typical restaurant week,” in which campaigns might run multi-course specials, says Farrell. “We wanted to create a platform for those businesses in those communities.” Plus, Black Restaurant Week doesn’t charge fees or take a percentage of sales. “They keep all revenue and invest back into their business,” Farrell says.
“That’s kind of why we started, we’re being left of out the conversation of the typical restaurant week.”Falayn Farrell, Black Restaurant Week co-founder
For restaurant owners like Deanna Price, every bit counts. She owns and operates South Dallas Cafe, which was started by her husband James Price in 1996, as well as Addison restaurants Vinetti’s and DJ’s Steakhouse. “When COVID hit, we took a big loss on all of our restaurants, with our employees and bartenders and servers, and everybody.” She hopes Black Restaurant Week will “let people know our businesses are open, that we survived COVID—thank God—and we’re just glad to be here and our food is good.”
Farrell says the event exists to “be that conduit” for restaurants. “That’s the beauty of it. It’s a blessing to be a blessing—even now, it’s very important as people are still recovering,” she says.
“This year has been an unfortunate year. I lost my father-in-law in the pandemic; it was hard,” Price says. “I hate that COVID had come and just ruined everything—most businesses didn’t even come back and survive from it, and I hate that. So when people say, ‘Well, how dare you open 100 percent or 75 percent,’ they just don’t understand that we have bills, too. We have families, we have lives. We have employees that need us, that depend on us. Don’t discredit us for wanting to make a living. This is our way of life.”
DJ’s, which stands for “Deanna” and “James,” has been open just six months, built through the pandemic with no PPP loans, all with the Price’s own money. “My husband is a steak man and he always wanted him a steak house,” says Price. There’s of course steak, but Price’s favorite items on the menu are the lamb chops, side of dressing, and Cajun-spiced cabbage—”it does have a little kick to it,” she says. Vinetti’s is great for pasta, stiff martinis, and live jazz music.
As for South Dallas Cafe, you have to stick with the stick-to-your-ribs classics like smothered pork chops or smothered turkey legs, homemade dressing, mac and cheese, and hot water cornbread. “Everybody don’t have hot water cornbread, we were the first to do the signature hot water cornbread,” she says. Well, there you go. The cornbread flag has been planted.
For the Dallas-born-and-bred Price family, hospitality is their legacy. David Singh, one of James Price’s sons, has branched out onto his own to open two new Uptown restaurants, Turkey D.A.M. and Ten 01 Bistro, the latter of which replaced Nickel & Rye on McKinney Avenue. Turkey D.A.M. opened last October with, you guessed it, smoked turkey legs (upwards of 1,500 per day).
Singh says they’ll be serving fresh Louisiana crawfish every day through March and April. Ten 01 Bistro, which opened last month, is part lounge, part restaurant that serves both Southern-style comfort food as well as vegan fare. Eventually, Singh wants to open his spaces for other people of color across all industries—food, art, you name it. “My ultimate goal in this is to have this be a platform… I’ve never been a person to make it alone,” he says. “We have to support each other.”
On that note, you can support these restaurants during Black Restaurant Week (March 12–21). Of course, Dallas has many Black-owned restaurants—bakeries, pop-ups, food trucks, too—that you can always support. Revisit our recently updated list here.