The title "Chicagoan" is worn as a badge of honor in our city and is practically synonymous with “foodie.” We take this food thing quite seriously, so it’s no surprise that most of us mark our calendars for Chicago Restaurant Week every year, but did you know that there is also a Chicago Black Restaurant Week? The third annual Chicago Black Restaurant Week will run from February 11 - 18, 2018, featuring specials and discounts at Black-owned eateries around the Chicagoland area. We spoke with Lauran Smith, "designer" of Chicago Black Restaurant Week (CBRW) to learn more about its origins and the benefits of participating for both restaurants and customers.
Lauran explained that after attending a local event for African American entrepreneurs, she noticed the buzz around the upcoming Chicago Restaurant Week—she also noticed that very few of the city’s Black-owned restaurants were included amongst the week's participants. As the owner of Elle’s Digital Agency, a digital marketing and social media management firm, Lauran used her public relations background to brainstorm solutions.
In the summer of 2015 she proposed the concept of Chicago Black Restaurant Week (only an idea at the time) on social media. After receiving an overwhelmingly positive response, Lauran took on the task of making it a reality. The inaugural Chicago Black Restaurant Week was launched the following February, featuring 17 local establishments.
Each year Chicago Black Restaurant Week is held during the second week of February, coinciding with what used to be Negro History Week (now Black History Month), established by long-time Chicago resident and historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson, known as the Father of Black History. (Learn more about the origins of Black History Month.)
This year’s 26 participating establishments include not only restaurants, but juiceries, wine, and pastry companies as well—representing a diverse range of Chicago’s food industry. Each will offer discounted CBRW specials and some have even curated special menus only to be offered during CBRW. The complete list of 2018 Chicago Black Restaurant Week participants and discounts can be found here.
For a great Valentine’s Day outing consider dinner and a show! We recommend one of the Chicago Black Restaurant Week participants and a discounted play from our list of Black Productions to Support During Chicago Theatre Week 2018 (also running this week!)
Here’s a few of our 2018 Chicago Black Restaurant Week favorites :
Haire’s Gulf Shrimp
7448 S Vincennes Ave, Chicago, IL 60620
Flavor Brunch & Bar
17575 S Kedzie Ave., Hazel Crest, IL 60429
Litehouse Whole Food Grill
1660 E 55th St, Chicago, IL 60615
Currency Exchange Café
305 E. Garfield Blvd., Chicago, IL 60637
503 E 47th St, Chicago, IL 60653
(Registration for 2018 CBRW is closed, but food establishments interested in participating in next year's Chicago Black Restaurant Week can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.)