By Savannah Grooms
April 22, 2023
From crispy fried chicken wings smothered in mambo sauce to Chesapeake blue crabs sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning, the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area — better known as the DMV — has some of the best eats in the United States.
Since 2018, the DMV Black Restaurant Week (DMVBRW) takes an unique approach to highlight some of the best Black businesses in town. Unlike similar programs in the Carolinas and Houston area, DMVBRW hosts events promoting not only brick-and-mortar restaurants but food trucks as well.
The event’s founders, Erinn Tucker, Furard “Chef” Tate and Andres “AJ” Johnson, created this event with a mission of supporting and sustaining Black businesses through education. The annual event has received more attention over the years, especially following the murder of George Floyd, and as incidents of racial profiling have increased at popular food chains.
Food truck owner Marie Hinds Kamaro said initiatives like DMVBRW are important because she started her business during the pandemic. As a mother of 4, Kamaro was searching for a balance between her personal and professional life. Her earliest memories began in her kitchen in Jamaica and she recalled the love her mother poured into her homemade meals. With a strong passion for Jamaican cuisine, Jas & Fam Caribbean Flavor was born.
“Owning a food truck comes with many challenges,” Kamaro explained. “Food truck season starts in April and ends in November because people don’t want to stand outside so it’s hard to keep business.”
“Many don’t think about all that goes into owning a food truck. Having to drive carefully where the food doesn’t tip over and learning how to work generators are all part of the challenge,” she continued.
According to co-founder Erinn Tucker, DMVBW is described as a “tool of awareness” and the event’s importance runs deep in the community.
With each year bringing more partnerships, DMVBRW used COVID-19 as a time to grow and spotlight small Black eateries like Jas and Fam. In November 2021, Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser officially proclaimed Nov. 6 to Nov. 13 as DMV Black Restaurant Week.
With the winter months being the slowest, the founders purposely created this monumental week right before the holiday season.
“DMVBRW goes beyond November and the showcase helps the participants network with over 1500 other black businesses,” Tucker stated. “Marketing is a big part of restaurants and we help with exposure for those who don’t have much money to hire publishers.”
Despite all the amazing things DMVBRW has become known for, the initiative has suffered some backlash on Twitter.
“The hate got so bad that we went on WHUR radio; ultimately it came from a lack of understanding,” Tucker said.
Despite the obstacles coming their way, DMVBRW never lost sight of their vision to spread awareness, give out grants and create an expansive network of support.
”We plan on getting bigger every year,” the DMVBRW owner said. “This is just the start!”