With protests and vigils continuing nationwide in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, many people have published and spread resources aimed at supporting black-owned businesses in various cities.
Here in Boston, a rapidly expanding crowdsourced spreadsheet offers details on black-owned restaurants (and other businesses) within the city and in nearby cities like Somerville, Cambridge, and beyond. Additional lists and resources have been making the social media rounds, too.
Here’s a look at some of the local resources available.
A Crowdsourced Spreadsheet of Boston’s Black-Owned Businesses
This spreadsheet of Boston-area black-owned businesses, including restaurants, has been public for five days now, growing by the minute. Around 70 or 80 people at a time are logged in reading it and making updates. It was spearheaded by Aishwarya Bhadouria, a local woman working in tech consulting, who quickly heard from others compiling similar information and ended up combining forces with two others, Nikki Ellis and Alicia Shamiji, to pull together one master list.
“As a woman of color and a diversity and inclusion activist, and with close friends in the black community — the current state had me really, really upset, angry, and emotional,” Aishwarya Bhadouria tells Eater. “I wasn’t able to go to the protests this week but really wanted to contribute even virtually — I refused to just sit at home doing nothing to help our black community. Going through Instagram, someone had created a list of black-owned restaurants for New York, which had me looking for Boston-based black-owned restaurants.”
After finding several lists, Bhadouria still wanted more information: Which restaurants were impacted by COVID-19? Which were temporarily closed? The spreadsheet was born, and it includes information on temporary closures, delivery and takeout options for the restaurants that remain open, vegan and vegetarian options, social media links and other contact info, and a new column added today that includes Venmo links or other ways to directly donate to restaurants or buy gift cards from them.
“The intent was always to provide visibility to these black-owned restaurants and their owners, and not only now, but in the future.”
It’s useful data, too, that could be helpful in other applications. Bhadouria and a friend are in conversations with Brooklyn-based startup EatOkra, a mobile app for finding black-owned restaurants. The app includes ratings, links to delivery services, and other information. It currently features two dozen Boston-area listings, and Bhadouria hopes to share data from the spreadsheet to add many more — the spreadsheet has already grown to over 150 local restaurant listings.
Bhadouria and several colleagues also put together a strategic proposal for a leading food delivery company, aiming to identify innovative ways that the company could help support the black community. “We’re excited about the potential of how we can create similar proposals for other companies in this space to drive change,” says Bhadouria.
“It’s been really motivating to see the restaurants getting the visibility they need to be supported during this time,” says Bhadouria. “Some of these efforts were with friends, other with strangers — but it’s all in support for our black community and friends. Simple actions like ordering from a black-owned restaurant, sharing the doc, donating money, are the beginning of a longer journey.”
Other Lists, Guides, and Resources
- EatOkra: As mentioned above, the EatOkra app currently contains information and ratings for about two dozen local black-owned restaurants (and more elsewhere in the country).
- @BlackOwnedBos: This Instagram account (and associated spreadsheet) highlights local black-owned businesses in food and other industries.
- Boston Black Restaurant Challenge: Founded in 2018 by state Rep. Chynah Tyler, the initiative challenges locals to dine at at least four black-owned restaurants in February each year; the website lists a number of options in Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan, and beyond, and the Facebook page also occasionally shares news and resources. As Tyler told Boston.com at the start of the third annual challenge in early 2020, it was created “to become a solution to the financial insecurities faced by many Black-owned restaurants in Boston ... More than half of Black-owned restaurants fail within the first year, and I want this challenge to be one of the causes that changes that.”
- Black-Owned Restaurants in Boston Open for Takeout and Delivery: With the pandemic still happening and Massachusetts only starting to allow outdoor dining today, takeout and delivery will continue to be vital to the survival of local restaurants. Boston Magazine compiled this list of black-owned restaurants that are currently offering takeout and/or delivery services.
- Support Boston’s Black-Owned Restaurants: This list from the Infatuation includes additional takeout and delivery options as well as some suggested organizations to support with donations.
- A List of 50+ Black-Owned Boston Restaurants to Support: The Boston Globe’s list includes short blurbs about several of the restaurants, such as the recently opened 50Kitchen in Dorchester; the Coast Cafe in Cambridge, which is especially known for its fried chicken; the decades-old Pit Stop Barbecue in Mattapan; and Tawakal Halal Cafe, the popular Somali restaurant in East Boston.
Boston Black Hospitality Coalition
Several Boston business owners announced the formation of the Boston Black Hospitality Coalition earlier this year as a response to the impact of the pandemic, which, per the coalition’s website, has been impacting black communities at a disproportionate rate.
“As it stands, there are only eight black owned liquor licenses in the city of Boston,” the coalition notes. “Unless a strategic response is implemented immediately, our businesses — neighborhood anchors that represent an iconic legacy of black entrepreneurship and community development in Boston — will be forced to close their doors forever.”
The coalition is raising funds on its website to support businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The group is made up of the owners behind District 7 Tavern and Soleil in Roxbury, Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen and Wally’s in the South End, and Savvor Restaurant & Lounge downtown.