'Black Restaurant Experience' event highlights minority-owned businesses

'Black Restaurant Experience' event highlights minority-owned businesses
Source: NBC12

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Black Restaurant Experience Week wraps up Sunday, but there's still plenty of time to get a taste of Richmond's unique cuisine

"Anything that again... gets people through the doors so they can kind of experience what it is you're doing is a benefit," said Lester Johnson, owner of Mama J's and Vagabond.

That's the goal of Richmond Black Restaurant Experience - putting a spotlight on the city's black-owned restaurants to ignite a deeper love of Richmond food culture.

Even Governor Ralph Northam and Mayor Stoney stopped by for lunch.

"That was a good time," said Johnson. "Both of them have eaten at the restaurant multiple times, but it was good for them to kind of come through today and support the Black Restaurant Experience."

"Everyone has to eat right," said Shemicia Bowen, event organizer.

But the experience goes beyond exploring Richmond unique flavors.

"There's been poetry, there's been zumba and yoga and tonight, we are featuring and focusing on music, so it's been an awesome week. The culture is really meeting the cuisine," said Bowen.

Anything to help keep new faces coming in and out of restaurants they might not normally eat at.

"This is the first spot we've hit all week," said Amirah Bohler, supporting black business. "But for us, it's just about being able to see our people walk through the doors and just support the businesses overall."

"Richmond has a lot of really great businesses to try, especially if they're minority-owned," said Amber Mayes. "It allows restaurants that maybe would have a chance to flourish to really get the opportunity to get some exposure."

Over a half a million dollars in revenue was generated for 19 local business during last year's event. This year, 29 business - including food trucks - are participating, and they hope to generate even more, all while growing Richmond's culinary scene.

"We hope that people are going to turn it into a regular thing and come in to these restaurants over and over again," said Johnson. "Hopefully, the restaurant owners will be able to turn them into long-time customers."

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