A new food festival spotlighting Black-owned business will debut in October with a catchy name. Blaktober is promising meal deals and specials throughout the month, along with a few special events like cookie decorating for families. The event’s from Black People Eats, a directory of Black-owned restaurants in Chicago.
The list of participating restaurants hasn’t been finalized, but founder Jeremy Joyce hopes to sign on 30 to 40. Customers can get the specials by mentioning “Blaktober” at the restaurant or on the phone. There will be cooking demos, and other events that are ticketed. Joyce says he’s using the momentum gained earlier this year from his successful Juneteenth promotion, where he raised the profile of more than 70 Black-owned restaurants across the city while bringing awareness to the holiday that recognizes the emancipation of Black slaves in America.
“It was good to see all cultures, all communities come together for every Black restaurant,” Joyce says.
Restaurants saw sales soar around Juneteenth as many Americans were finally confronting the systematic racism faced by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous People of Color) as protesters across the country condemned police brutality. Restaurant owners began putting up statements declaring “Black Lives Matter” on social media and in signs in front of windows. Websites scrambled to compile lists of Black-owned businesses.
The attention was nice, but skeptics wonder if some of it was performative. Realistically, as the pandemic disproportionately affects BIPOC communities, restaurant owners need ways to translate that spike into long-standing success. So, now three months later, Joyce is launching an event, one that he’s had in his pocket for two years. He’s been wanting to bring several Black-owned restaurants together under one roof as a symbol for unity, one where folks who can’t afford to eat at restaurants on a regular baisis could interact with restaurant owners and try food. COVID-19 won’t let him bring them together physically, so he’s trying something new.
Participating restaurants include 5 Loaves Eatery, D&D’s Place, and Andy’s Sunflower Cafe. Joyce has also rounded up 15 chefs who have contributed to a digital cookbook. Recipes include a black plum hibiscus jam from Sheldrick Holmes of the Grail Cafe. Kristen Harper of Cleo’s Southern Cuisine has also supplied a recipe for creole fried catfish.
Joyce has championed restaurant owners that have felt left out of the spotlight. He wants to grow the event next year. By then, he hopes, doctors will have a vaccine, and he’ll be able to invite the community to celebrate together.
In other news...
— Chicago’s music venues are facing a dire situation during the pandemic, as indoor live music performances came to a complete halt in March. Arts and music nonprofit Quiet Pterodactyl aims to support these cultural institutions, along with restaurants, through a project called Save Chicago Music. Fans can order meals for carryout from select restaurants featured on the initiative’s website, like a margarita pizza and two boozy slushies from Bungalow by Middlebrow and Apologue Liqueurs. Each order donates $10 to SituationChicago, another Quiet Pterodactyl project and double vinyl compilation designed to raise funds for local indie performance spaces.
— Neighborhood dive and performance space the Hideout near Lincoln Park and Bucktown will bring back a virtual version of First Tuesdays with Maya and Ben, a monthly political talk show hosted by radio host and columnist Ben Joravsky and Maya Dukmasova, a freelance journalist and staff writer at the Reader. The show returns October 6, and will feature New Republic staff writer and political commentator Osita Nwanevu.
— Dr. Murphy’s Food Hall, the enormous new Near West Side food court that opened in early August, is now offering delivery from all 11 vendors, according to a news release. Customers can placed orders online via the hall’s website. Breakfast delivery is available form 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. with items from all-day breakfast spot Brekkie & Bake Shop, Mexican street foot stall Taqueria Jarabe, and coffee, tea, and pastries from local roastery Passion House. All vendors will offer lunch and dinner delivery from 11 a.m. to close.
— Chicago’s largest restaurant group is scheduled to open its first Texas establishment, an outpost of Mediterranean-themed Aba, this fall. Eater Chicago readers voted the original location Restaurant of the Year in 2018. Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises plans to launch the Austin restaurant on Thursday, October 1, Eater Austin reports. The new restaurant will open at 75-percent capacity for indoor dining — a far cry from Chicago’s 25-percent cap — and carryout will also be available.