In February, diners across Boston were encouraged to participate in the Boston Black Restaurant Challenge, which encouraged customers to visit at least four Black-owned restaurants that month. Nia Grace, owner of Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen in the South End, helped to lead the challenge, along with State Representative Chynah Tyler.
Now Grace is hoping to encourage a renewed sense of commitment in August with Boston Black Restaurant Month, an initiative launched by the Boston Black Hospitality Coalition, which Grace helped to form.
“We were thinking about our efforts during the Boston Black Restaurant Challenge and kind of continuing to build that list and promotion for restaurants,” Grace told Boston.com, noting that August is also National Black Business Month. “We think it’s a fine time to focus on that in the month of August.”
The Boston Black Hospitality Coalition was created with the goal of preserving Black-owned restaurants and bars in the Boston area, which have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Grace said that throughout August, the coalition plans to promote Black-owned restaurants through social media, running profiles on these businesses and launching giveaways while encouraging diners to visit or order from as many Black-owned restaurants as possible.
“The most immediate thing for us is, let’s just do a push and let people know we’re out there,” Grace said. “We’re doing more than just takeout. Next year we’ll obviously look to have a better program and more interactive [experiences], but right now we think the biggest action is: Make an order.”
Details regarding Boston Black Restaurant Month can be found at bostonblackrestaurants.com, which features a list of Black-owned restaurants to frequent throughout August and beyond.
The coalition also aims to launch four beer gardens across the city, including one hosted by Darryl’s in the South End at the Stanhope Garage, and one hosted by Roxbury’s District 7 Tavern at the corner of Quincy Street and Warren Street (Royal C. Smith, owner of District 7, also helped form the Boston Black Hospitality Coalition). Plans for two additional gardens at the Lawn on D and Boston Convention and Exhibition Center are being discussed.
“For the better part of three months, we were all in the house for the most part, and then as we started to bring ourselves back to society, we wanted to create these environments that people feel safe in,” Grace said. “A large part of our base feels better at outdoor events, so we are trying to cater to that in the best way possible.”
While details of the beer gardens are still being nailed down, the locations near Darryl’s and District 7 both aim to open within the next two weeks and will close on October 31. The coalition is working to offer food from Black-owned restaurants at each garden.
In addition to Boston Black Restaurant Month and the beer gardens, Grace said that the coalition’s hope is to reinvest in the community and create additional revenue streams that can help Black-owned restaurants and bars stay afloat.
“During this time we’ve been able to make headway, and it seems slow and it seems frustrating — that’s how it feels as we’re going through it — but we know we’re making progress,” Grace said. “I just have to keep getting us on gear.”
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