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Eat Black Charlotte Week (EATBLKCLT) is a week of pre-fixe lunch and dinner menus from Charlotte metro area Black-owned restaurants available from Friday, June 2 through Sunday, June 11 along with a festival celebration on June 10.
The Black Wall Street Times spoke with EATBLKCLT founding member, Erique Berry, about what hungry Charlotteans can expect on the menu this year.
EATBLKCLT enters its third year of serving the Charlotte community
Speaking on the formation of EATBLKCLT, Berry reflected, “I was a part of the original six member group of content creators that came together in 2020 after the killing of George Floyd. We saw white content creators opportunistically talking about Black-owned businesses that have never engaged with our restaurants and we came together to address it in a meaningful and community-connected way.”
Berry continued, “We also noticed from blogs and newspapers that Black-owned restaurants weren’t covered that much because they may not have the extra funds to pay a PR person or hire a professional photographer to come in and take pictures. We knew that there was this major gap in the digital media marketing space. We took back our narrative.”
As content creators committed to assisting these restaurant owners beyond the annual festival, Berry states EATBLKCLT is presently strategizing how best to sustain support for Black-owned restaurants throughout the year. “One of our long term goals is to support the restaurants more in the digital marketing space, not just through our Instagram, but helping them build their social media presence to take one more thing off their plate.”
EATBLKCLT is the bridge connecting culture to food
For Black-owned businesses to survive and thrive, across the country many have relied on long-lasting community relationships, word-of-mouth and brand loyalty.
According to Berry, those vital relationships work both ways whether a day one or newcomer. “The beauty of it is we were already supporting a lot of these restaurants before EATBLKCLT, especially the food trucks, and many have been with us since day one,” says Berry. “Other times, we are able to showcase new Black-owned businesses by discovering them in the city, and sometimes they reach out to us to participate in the festival.”
Along with being graced by the presence of Charlotte Mayor, Vi Lyles, EATBLKCLT has quickly made a name for themselves throughout the Queen City as a place for all to come and enjoy. “The beauty of our first year and last year too is that we had so many different age ranges, you have the elders there and the kids, along with young and single people and we also had families attend. We promoted this year as family-friendly as well. It’s really important to us that this is a place for everyone to feel comfortable,” Berry stated.
PRO-TIP: If you ever find yourself in the Queen City looking for a good sandwich that hits the spot, Berry recommends picking up “Uncle Gene’s Fish Sandwich” at Jimmy Pearls or a “Mad Dash Burger” at Mad Dash.
Berry says food is only half the pleasure she receives from visiting Black-owned restaurants, “The owners of Jimmy Pearls (Oscar Johnson and Daryl Cooper) are also wonderful people which makes the food even better in my opinion.”
EATBLKCLT Food & Culture Festival will take place 2 p.m. – 7 p.m. on June 10 at Victoria Yard’s in Charlotte.
Featuring splash-pads for kids and cooling stations for adults, Berry says the team is preparing for a hot summer crowd looking to cool off and enjoy the vibes one bite at a time. With a dozen delicious trucks to choose from, even if attendance isn’t your thing, they’ve offered an early entry option for individuals who want the food without the wait.
After two years of planning and executing leading up to and during the festival, Berry says this year will be the first the team will have the opportunity to experience the June 10 festival without being in charge of every day-of detail. She said, “we were so busy last year we didn’t get a chance to eat at all, we ended up stopping at Cuzzo’s right up the street. This year, we hired an outside company to handle the day-of so hopefully we’ll have a chance to sit back and enjoy it and visit with the people, speak to the restaurant and food truck owners.”