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More than meals: Black Restaurant Week serves community in Buffalo

Posted at 5:19 PM, Feb 18, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Last year this event started out as just Black Restaurant Week{end}.

5 restaurants participated, and it lasted just 3 days.

“We said that's just not enough to put community and diversity on a platform here in Western New York,” said Kendra Brim, President of the Buffalo Urban League Young Professionals.

Her organization puts on this event that showcases black-owned restaurants in Buffalo.

Buffalo Soul Catering

Crazy Cake Bakery

The Groove Lounge & Cafe

Ike and Bg's BBQ

Je Ne Sais Quoi

Myracle's Restaurant

The Oakk Room

Pandora's Sports Bar & Restaurant

PhatCatz Restaurant & Bar

Richies Soul Food Restaurant & Lounge

Shys Original Steak House

This year nearly a dozen restaurants are participating between February 17-23.

“We just want to put those restaurant out on a forefront to say ‘hey we're here, we're being represented’,” said Brim.

“A lot of the black restaurants don’t have the same foundation as some of the bigger restaurants here in Buffalo.”

But black restaurant week isn’t just for people in the black community.

It’s an opportunity for everyone to try some food by small business owners.

“When you're in these restaurants, explore the neighborhood, talk to the people, ask them why they decided to make their restaurant there…a lot of these restaurants are family owned they go back years.”

This is a week to celebrate culture and diversity in Buffalo.

For some of the restaurants participating, it’s about connecting with like-minded individuals.

“I felt like it was an opportunity to bridge the gap between black business owners,” said Aisha Rashada, manager of Shy’s Original Steak House on Fillmore.

“To be able to share information that we might have, bridge that gap of knowledge, basically - [talk about] what it takes to run a business.”

And to many small business owners, owning a restaurant is about more than just serving food.

“This area is a little trying for some people, but it's actually been bringing a lot of people down, the community has been supporting us.”

Brandy and Jamey Alexander ran their catering company out of their church until booming business pushed the couple to open their own brick and mortar Buffalo Soul Catering.

But, their food journey started long before May 8, 2018.

“I loved the way my mother and grandmother cooked,” said Jamey. “I always wanted to learn how to do it like that. I realized one day they're going to pass on and we want to have food that reminds us of them.”

He and his wife are new to the restaurant business and participating in restaurant week is a way for them to bring in new clients, that will hopefully be back.

“When we got word of it, we were like, ‘we're definitely in.’”