Time to Eat: Black-Owned Businesses and African Diaspora Food Take Center Stage at Unique Festival | FIU News

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Ricardo Vincent had to make a big decision when his restaurant business dried up during the pandemic: pivot to survive or wait. That’s when he and some of his business partners decided to open a food truck.

In March 2020, Taco Negro was born. The tantalizing smell of perfectly spiced jerk chicken tacos, shredded beef and cheese, po boy shrimp and barbecue mac and cheese wafts from the truck, as does the pride of being a black business owner.

“After the pandemic, nobody was eating indoors,” Vincent said. So he decided to bring the food to the people. Why Taco Negro? “Because believe it or not, there aren’t many black owners who operate a taco truck.”

Taco Negro is just one of more than 40 black-owned restaurants and food trucks participating in this year’s 2n/a Annual Black Pepper Food and Wine Festival presented by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau Black Hospitality Initiative. The festival is hosted by FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management and benefits the school’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) efforts. Bothn/a The annual festival is scheduled for Saturday, August 13 from 3-8 p.m. at the Biscayne Bay campus in North Miami, Florida.

25 CRF students help the organizers organize the event. CRF-affiliated businesses participating in the festival include Tropical Oasis Express, The Trap 954, Chef Ari’s Slight Peppa, Oli’s Bakeshop, Rita’s Italian Ice and Pound for Pound Cakes.

Festival-goers enjoy a meal from House of Mac.

In addition to Black restaurants and businesses located from Miami to West Palm Beach, the festival will include live chef demonstrations, mixology demonstrations and live music.

“What better time to celebrate our restaurants than during Black Business Month? It allows us to be very intentional about the black dollar flowing and spreading awareness of these amazing restaurants we have all over South Florida,” said Alexis Brown, festival co-founder and owner of SocialXchange, Inc. ., an events company that focuses on black-owned businesses. Along with his business partner, Joel Brown, the two have focused their business on creating a sense of community for millennials and urban professionals by curating innovative social, community service and travel experiences.

“The narrative is that there aren’t many black-owned businesses here in South Florida, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

SUPPORTING THE UNDERGROUND ECONOMY

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More than 40 black-owned restaurants and food trucks will be at the festival.

August is Black Business Month, when the public is encouraged to appreciate and support Black-owned businesses across the United States. The month began in August 2004 to drive the political agenda affecting the then 2.6 million African American businesses in the United States and to share and celebrate America’s diversity and equity. According to Miami-Dade County, it is ranked 5e in the country for the most black-owned businesses. In Miami-Dade, Brown says 17% of businesses are black-owned, and in Broward the number is double that, at 34%.

But black business owners face challenges. According to an October 2020 McKinsey study, only 5% of Black Americans own equity in a business in the United States. Other research shows that black entrepreneurs have an even harder time accessing the capital needed to start a business or the marketing dollars to promote it.

“Creating equity in the United States not only means social but economic stability,” said Brian Barker, Chaplin School DEI professor and first hospitality teacher with diversity, equity and inclusion. in the USA. another hotel school in the country.

Barker recently launched a bold and intentional initiative called Alliance for Hospitality Equity & Diversity or AHED to create a national infrastructure for talented, but underrepresented Black and Hispanic students to create a pathway to degrees in hospitality management and leadership. in the sequel C.

“The only way to build generational wealth and create equity in the community is with an intentional approach and this festival is a phenomenal way to put money back into the black economy,” Barker concluded. .

For Vincent, owner of the Taco Negro company, this will be his first participation in the Black Pepper Food & Wine Festival. He’s excited and agrees, “It’s all about supporting each other.”

For tickets to the Black Pepper Wine & Food Festival, visit blackpepperfoodfest.com and to learn more about DEI’s efforts, visit Hospitality.fiu.edu. The event is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are required.

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