Warren Luckett and some friends launched Houston Black Restaurant Week in 2016, hoping to create unity and provide spaces for dialogue, while also showcasing the talent and diversity of the Black culinary community.
“Growing up, one of the places we could always come together and have conversations was always at the table around food,” says Luckett.
The 2020 Black Restaurant Week starts Friday and runs through July 19. Participating restaurants are offering discounts on meals, and while you can dine in at some restaurants, takeout service is recommended whenever possible.
The organizers hope to highlight culinary contributions made by Black people over the past 400 years and the impact the culture has had on the landscape of Houston specifically.
“The Black culinary community has made a huge impact. For example, oxtails used to be thrown out as scraps, but we’ve taken them and made them into a delicacy,” Luckett says. “We want to highlight all kinds of cuisine from the African diaspora—Caribbean, African, etc. It’s about really showcasing our food heritage.”
While Black Restaurant Week has since expanded across the nation, taking place in 11 U.S. cities, the Bayou City is where it all began. “Houston really is one of the top culinary destinations in the world,” says Luckett. “We want to showcase that diversity.”
The event partners with Family Agriculture Resource Management Services, or F.A.R.M.S., a nonprofit committed to providing legal and technical services to farmers of color in order to prevent the loss of land ownership, promote generational wealth, and eradicate hunger in the farming community. Typically, the proceeds from the week benefit this organization; this year, however, in light of COVID-19, the event will be more directed toward supporting local Black-owned culinary businesses themselves.
“This year we’re allowing restaurants the opportunity to register for free. We’re still partnering with F.A.R.M.S. moving forward, but this year we’re really looking to provide the restaurants with as many resources as possible,” says Luckett.
This year’s list of participants includes Fainmous BBQ, Lucille’s, and Ray’s Real Pit BBQ Shack. More restaurants are likely to be added. For a directory, visit the Houston Black Restaurant Week website.