"There are no good restaurants in this area. We always have to go to Buckhead, Midtown, etc..."
Ever hear that before? That's the sound you usually hear from many who live in African American communities. There are constant complaints about the lack of good restaurants to frequent - let alone African American owned and operated spots. I'd have to agree that most of the best places to eat are very far away from the typical neighborhoods where we reside.
As an African American chef, I often get the suggestion that I should, "open a nice restaurant in our neighborhood." My usual response is mainly that I don't really want to own a restaurant. My new response is, "If I ever wanted to open a restaurant, I wouldn't open one here because y'all wouldn't support me!" Harsh? Well, I have my reasons for making that statement.
I have a few friends that own restaurants. It was always their dream to open a nice, reasonably priced place for "our people to enjoy without having to travel so far." They eventually realized their dream, opening great places with wonderful food and great prices. Employment opportunities for African Americans in the area opened up as they began to serve one another. The buzz from the community was there and all came out to support - at first. As time went on the crowds began to dwindle.
In my opinion, I feel we don't do a great job of giving long-term support for the businesses in our communities. I went to a friend's restaurant one night for some great food and live music, which he has once or twice a week. My wife and I had a wonderful time as we always do when we go. By the way, this was my entree which was only $16:
$16! This would START at $24 north of the city.
The only problem this time was the crowd was too small for a weekend. It angered me a bit because I know the area very well. There are a lot of affluent African Americans who live in the community, but they were not eating there. The thing is, you know they are eating somewhere - why not there? I can almost guarantee that they went to Buckhead or somewhere similar. And these were the same folks asking for a place in their neighborhood. I guess they'd rather travel 30 miles or so and waste gas to pay $10 more for their entree.
In a nutshell, I think we cry for the Black-Owned businesses - don't support them - then complain when they pull out of the community. A restaurant or an establishment of the like is a For-Profit entity - not a 501c3. That means, they need to make money. From what I am told by those who run the restaurants "black people just don't come out and support.". If you don't come in and support them, they cannot survive.