The Fifth Annual Black Restaurant Week, which runs Sunday, August 16 through Sunday, August 23, will honor the legacy of Ms. Milele Chikasa Anana, the pioneer behind the week-long event who passed away in May at the age of 86.
“Ms. Milele’s life’s work was to empower Black businesses and creating Black Restaurant Week was something she was very proud of,” Madison Black Chamber of Commerce President Camille Carter said. “The same characteristics she displayed, including passion, dedication, and integrity, I see in our local black restaurants.”
Beginning Sunday, Aug. 16, the event will highlight more than 30 restaurants, food carts, caterers, and specialty food service providers. Due to the pandemic, the organizers of the event had to pivot in a socially responsible way.
The week has been planned to meet customer safety needs and inspire confidence. This year Madison Black Chamber will launch an online webstore and app, Marketplace BRW (available on the chamber’s website), which will give customers the opportunity to pre-order items from participating caterers, dessert preparers and specialty shops. The app is available on both iOS and Android devices and will launch on August 16. It will be open for pre-order sales through August 19. Customers will be able to pick up their orders from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23 in the Feed Kitchen (1219 N. Sherman Ave.) parking lot.
“It’s a pilot and we will continue to look at the marketplace, but we will love to do it monthly,” Carter said.
“Many of our restaurants have been profoundly affected, our food handlers. This pandemic has changed how people connect to businesses,” Carter said.
BP Smokehouse, Buraka, David’s Jamaican Cuisine, Falbo Bros Pizza, Kingdom Restaurant, Marie’s Soul Food, McGee’s Chicken, and Savi Cafe & Catering are all restaurants who plan on participating this year. In addition, food trucks such as Cafe Costa Rica, JD’s Soul Food, Pa Pa’s BBQ, Rib Masters, Sista’s Chicken & Fish, and Teekela Sunrise are also a part of the event.
“We will do our share to promote the businesses but it’s up to the customers to help support the businesses, expand their culinary pallets, and patronize them,” Carter said.
In addition, CocoVaa Chocolatier, Miss Ella’s Cake Bar, Mo’ Betta Butter Cookies, Sweets by Sweet and Valice’s Sweet Potato Pies & Cakes are all Black-owned businesses participating that sell desserts. Caterers participating include Just Veggiez, Keur Fatou Catering, Kipp’s Cuisine, La Casserole, Les Delices de Awa, Melly Mel’s, PJ’s Soul Food, Reuben’s Smoked Meats and Tilly’s Jerk Snack Shop. Other participating businesses include Artemis Provisions & Cheese, Ernie’s Kick Sauce, Off the Block Salsa and Frozen Pizza and South Madison Farmers’ Market.
“One thing we’re looking forward to is inquiries from customers because it’s been rough,” said Esperdell McGee, Owner of McGee’s Chicken.
McGee’s shut down operations for a few short days due to the pandemic while the staff cleaned, disinfected, and sanitized their restaurant; however, even after they reopened, customers could not dine inside or use the restrooms. Unfortunately, McGee’s were forced to close their Park Street location to focus on the location in Sun Praire.
“We have a lot of family and volunteers that can jump in and help wherever needed,” McGee said.
He also said a new location on East Washington Avenue will open within the next few weeks but customers can support the restaurant by ordering food. McGee’s will offer daily specials during Black Restaraunt Week.
David’s Jamaican owner Pauline Blake encourages customers to visit their website and order food from their menu. The restaurant is open for take-out only.
“During Black Restaraunt Week, we are continuing to ask the community to support our restaurants throughout the Madison area but we really want to focus on some of our other food service professionals,” Carter said.