Black Restaurant Week in Kansas City kicked off on September 2 and is in full swing until Sunday, Sep. 11, so there’s still plenty of time to get out, explore, and support your favorite Black-owned eateries. The event’s third year in Kansas City features over 40 restaurants in Kansas City and includes food trucks, bakeries, and professional chefs. Chefs and owners will be showcasing cuisine that reflects their heritage and diverse background across the metro.

The annual event is hosted by Black Restaurant Week, a national organization that organizes culinary events in support of Black-owned restaurants. This year’s theme is “More Than Just a Week” as Black-owned restaurants and businesses continue to face uncertain futures due to loss of revenue related to the pandemic. 

The pandemic has been especially hard on the restaurant industry and especially for Black business owners. A recent study shows that “Black Owned” restaurants continue to be disproportionately impacted during the pandemic, versus businesses that did not report ownership ethnicity.

Black Restaurant Week also partners with, Feed the Soul foundation a national non-profit that offers small grants, business opportunities, and mentoring for marginalized culinary owners.

We spoke with three Black-led businesses to discuss what it means to be a part of the Black restaurant week in Kansas City.

Mesob Caribean and Ethiopian Cuisine:
Chef and owner, Cherven Desauguste opened Mesob in Midtown in 2016 and has seen it grow in popularity. Overall, Black Restaurant week has been positive Desauguste said.

“Anytime you have a Black-owned restaurant that gets this recognition it makes us proud,” Desauguste said. “As a Black owner myself, I find out about a lot of other Black-owned restaurants just because of the platform Black Restaurant Week gives us.” 

According to Desauguste while the boost in business because of the recognition from Black Restaurant week is helpful, however, he wishes it would be more sustained.

“I just wished there was more of a voice that really showcased, ‘Hey, here’s all the Black owners, here are all the Black chefs. Go and support them.’ And it would be throughout the year,” Desaguste said. 

Mesob’s best seller is the Shrimp and Grits which is a take on the classic dish with a special Haitian flare, Desaguste’s learned growing up in the country. He also recommends the Tofu Wot, a traditional Ethiopian dish, as a vegetarian option which reflects co-owner, Mehret Tesfamariam’s, Ethiopian heritage.

Isaac Collins, the owner of Yogurtini, a self-serve frozen yogurt bar, is participated in Black Restaurant Week for the second year. Collins said any opportunity to participate in an event that celebrates Black business will always be beneficial.

“It’s amazing to celebrate Black excellence and Black-owned businesses,” Collins said. “Giving a week to be able to be in the news, media, other outlets brings attention to Black restaurants and Black services,”

Collins said that being a Black-owned business located in the South Plaza, an area that has a history of redlining, has made him prideful to be a Black business owner. 

“I love that there is more culture and diversity in a place that has been objectively white,” Collins said. “It’s really, really cool slowly but surely there’s more Black establishments coming down here.” 

The frozen yogurt bar will be offering a new Fall flavor menu for patrons during Black Restaurant Week. They offer over 100 combinations of frozen yogurt and toppings for all tastes.

Fannie’s West African Cuisine:
Fannie Gibson, owner of Fannie’s West African Cuisine, said the business at her restaurant has bounced back following the pandemic and the extra support from the promotion from Black Restaurant Week has improved business this week.

“We’ve had a lot of people coming in and showing support, which I’m grateful for,” Gibson said. “It brings us together as Black business owners which doesn’t have all the time. The spotlight and the platform has been great.”

Gibson said the biggest obstacle she sees in her business is keeping her restaurant staffed. It’s an issue she said has impacted multiple local businesses following the pandemic.

“I’ve been struggling with that for the longest time. It’s better now, but we still struggle sometimes keeping the doors open,” Gibson said. “A lot of places closed because they just couldn’t keep up with the ups and down.”

Gibson said she hopes to continue to rebound and hopes to see other Black business owners continue to prosper as well.

“We have a great community here in Kansas City,” Gibson said. “Black businesses have been very supportive of each other and we raise ourselves up. It’s been awesome and I feel blessed to be supported through all of this.”

Fannie’s menu is reflective of the traditional West African cuisine of Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, and  Cameroon.

Fufu, a type of traditional dough, usually served together with a soup or stew is a crowd favorite according to Gibson.

“You’ve got to try to the fufu,” Gibson said. “It‘s something different, it’s unique. So together with the Okra soup or Egusi soup, you’re not going to have it everywhere. You’ve got to try it.”
You can check out these specials from Black-owned restaurants that will be available until the end of the week:

District Fish and Pasta

Kiraameen Khalisah, the owner of District Fish and Pasta, has been serving the community since 2019. The restaurant’s most popular dish is shrimp and salmon pasta, with options to add fajita, cajun spice, or keep it plain. 

Black Restaurant Week specials:

Stuffed Salmon is stuffed with blackened shrimp, spinach, and cream cheese.

Smoked Brisket is a creamy alfredo pasta topped with smoked brisket.

Surf and Turf Fry topped with chicken, shrimp, peppers, and alfredo sauce.

Customers can also order from Whiting and Basa fish dinners and seafood fries, loaded with shrimp, peppers, onions, parmesan, and Alfredo sauce. The dessert menu varies from banana pudding to chocolate turtle cake. 

Foodlove Cafe

Kim Cole, executive chef of Foodlove Cafe, and her husband, Clarence, have been serving Homestyle French Cuisine for over 15 years.

Cole said their current number one-bestseller dish is Big Mama’s Fried Chicken entree, which comes with mashed potatoes, gravy, and country-style green beans. However, customers in the past week have ordered  Poulet & Des Poires, Kim’s signature dish based on Butter Seared Chicken Breast topped with Chardonnay Soaked Pears smothered in velvety French Bechamel drizzle served with Potato Truffles. A vegetarian menu is also available. 

Sept. 8: $4 drafts from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sept. 9: $4 Friday Happy Hour and $8 appetizers from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sept. 10: Saturday Morning Breakfast at Foodlove cafe from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Learn more about every restaurant and find a full list of this year’s participants here.

Jacob Martin covered news that focuses on housing and equality issues in Kansas City. Prior to joining our team, he worked as a general assignments reporter with KCUR in Kansas City. A Louisville, Kentucky...

Simone Garza was a reporter in our Kansas City office. In addition to general reporting on Kansas City’s African-American community, she reports on economic inclusion for the African American community....