'Try something different': Chicago Black Restaurant Week 2022 highlights Black-owned establishments

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It's black restaurant week in Chicago. The two-week event kicked off Sunday, and we're taking you all over town to see what these restaurants are cooking up.

From Bureau Bar in the South Loop to Surf's Up in Oak Park, as well as Luella's Southern Kitchen in Lincoln Square, these business owners are excited to kick off Black Restaurant Week.

"We need everybody to come out and support us," said Denise Roy with Surf's Up.

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"A lot of people don't know there's quite a few Black restaurants in the city of Chicago. I'm still finding out new ones every day," said Resse Wilson, manager at Bureau Bar.

Most participating restaurants are offering special deals over the next two weeks to try to bring in customers.

"Especially like after the holiday season, January is slow, so this gives us something to look forward to," said Darnell Reed, owner and chef at Luella's Southern Kitchen. "There's a lot of history that can be told through food. I think when people actually dine in restaurants like ours, they can go see that."

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Luella's Southern Kitchen is located in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood.



Lauran Smith first launched Chicago Black Restaurant Week in 2016, but says because of the pandemic, the event has become more important than ever.

"Restaurants already have a hard enough time, but a lot of restaurants in African-American communities suffer because some of them are so small, it's like a mom and pop situation. So I'm just like let me highlight some of these businesses to just help generate some revenue for them so that they can maintain and keep running," Smith said.

Many restaurants continue to deal with a variety of challenges, like ongoing supply issues and the rising costs of goods.

"Food prices, just like when you go to the grocery store, how high the prices are, they're just as high for us in the restaurants. So it's hard trying to get it, and then every item isn't available," Roy said.

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"So you have to figure outm,OK, now I need to change my recipe because certain food items you can't get. To-go containers was really hard for a while," Reed added.

Many said it's all posing as obstacles for the entire industry.

"The more challenges that come our way is just the more we have to be creative to figure things out. Figure out a way to get through this," Reed said.

That's why making events like these are so important in helping them get back on their feet as the come out of the pandemic.

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Chicago Black Restaurant Week is set to return this year, featuring restaurants, bakeries and more during Black History Month 2022.



"Why not try something different? You really never know what could be around the corner from your house," Smith said.

"You know, we're all in this together and we need your help," Roy added.

The week will feature coffee shops, soul food and vegan food among others; To see a list of participants, click here

Chicago Black Restaurant Week will be from Feb. 6 - 20.
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