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'More than just a week': Black Restaurant Week hosting second event in Carolinas

Margo Newkirk (left) and Kiera Gardner (right) run Blend of Soul at the Black Farmers' Market in Durham, NC. Photo courtesy of Samantha Everette.

From April 22 to May 1, Black Restaurant Week will host its second annual event in the Carolinas to celebrate African American, Caribbean and African cuisines.

It will feature more than 80 Black-owned restaurants ranging from North Carolina and South Carolina to New York.

The motto of Black Restaurant Week is “More Than Just a Week” — encouraging the community to support these businesses year-round.

“Once you find out who these businesses are, we really want the community to continue to support them throughout the year,” Falayn Ferrell, managing partner of operations for Black Restaurant Week, said. “We as a platform, we're more than just restaurant weeks.”

Origin of Black Restaurant Week

Ferrell said the weeklong event started in Texas and then expanded to the Carolinas.

“We started it in 2016 in Houston really as a way to create a platform to showcase the Black culinary businesses in our city,” Ferrell said.

She said she noticed that some Black-owned businesses — like food trucks, bakeries and mobile-only businesses — did not have the business model to fit other restaurant week campaigns.

Ferrell said other cities reached out to the Black Restaurant Week organization after the Houston campaign, asking to host similar events in their city.

“Actually, when COVID struck, (that) was probably our biggest growth year because we restructured the model to be more of a regional base model instead of city-based,” she said.

The Black Restaurant Week organization hosts 15 campaigns throughout the year, starting in February with the Northwest region, then trickling down to Florida in November.

Blend of Soul

Margo Newkirk, CEO and co-owner of Blend of Soul, will be participating in Black Restaurant Week.

Blend of Soul is a mobile-only business that delivers cold-pressed juices to customers. The business also travels to various markets in the Triangle to sell its products.

Blend of Soul opened in the Blue Dogwood Public Market on Franklin Street in the spring of 2021. In March of this year, the business moved to Durham, where it will continue to serve the Triangle.

Newkirk previously served in the military for 10 years and experienced an injury during her time serving. She said she tried out juicing to help her get the dietary supplements that she needed while healing from the injury.

"Juicing, I guess before it became kind of trendy, I looked into it because I was like smoothies, I do like smoothies, but let me try juicing first," she said. "This is something new, let me try this out.”

She began her juicing journey a few years ago and from there on started the process of opening her business.

“I would go to the gym, people would see my bottles, and I didn't have logos or anything at that point," she said. "It was just bottles. And then from there, my co-workers started wanting me to make it for them in my office."

Newkirk said this helped her realize that she wanted to open up a juicing company.

She collaborated with her fiancée, Kiera Gardner, who is also a co-owner of Blend of Soul, to create a plan in order to start establishing their business.

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“I was just being nice and doing this for people, but it really started from wanting to lead a more health-conscious lifestyle,” she said.

The company will offer a discount to customers during Black Restaurant Week.

Black-owned bakeries

Michelle Brewington, the owner of Perfectly Portioned, will showcase her jarred cheesecake business this week.

The home-based business is located in Raleigh, where customers can order cheesecakes ranging from red velvet to German chocolate flavors for pickup or delivery.

Brewington is originally from St. Louis but didn’t start her cheesecake business until she moved to North Carolina.

“My business is one that just kind of began from a potluck," she said. "My co-workers loved my cheesecake and asked if I would sell it, like could they buy it. And from there it just kind of took off.”

Another business, Cake Mommy, serves the Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Durham areas and will participate in the restaurant week as well.

Owner Tiffany Palmer-Lytle has been baking since her early 20s. She learned her way around the baking industry by watching the cooks in her own family, according to her website.

From then on, she continued to bake custom cakes and treats for the past several years through her business.

Palmer-Lytle said this is her first year participating in the Black Restaurant Week event.

“It was an awesome opportunity, I was excited when I saw it pop up in my email," she said. "So I definitely jumped at the chance to put myself out there and display my work.”

Though there is no physical storefront, Cake Mommy delivers custom cakes and other sweet treats commonly ordered for parties, weddings and other events.

Palmer-Lytle said she hopes customers will try out her favorite honey bun cake and Oreo cookie cupcakes when ordering from her restaurant.

Click here to see a full list of restaurants participating in Black Restaurant Week.

@DTHCityState |

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