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ST. LOUIS – Black Restaurant Week Midwest returns to St. Louis beginning Friday, July 23 through Aug. 1 with the same mission in mind: create financial solutions for local, black-owned restaurants that have been impacted by systemic barriers and loss of revenue due to the pandemic. 

Black Restaurant Week is not only a chance to highlight black-owned businesses in the community, it’s an opportunity to help build them up financially while the unknown of the pandemic still lingers.

On Friday, St. Louis County and City leaders announced they will revive the mask mandate for all vaccinated and unvaccinated residents whether indoors or outdoors starting Monday. Reliving months of shutdowns has some restaurant owners concerned. 

A study released by the University of California Santa Cruz shows that 41 percent of black-owned businesses shuttered compared to just 17 percent of white-owned businesses since February 2020 when the pandemic began.

The creators of Black Restaurant Week, LLC – Midwest St. Louis have joined the No Crumb Left Behind Campaign in addition to promoting participating restaurants for the week. 

“The No Crumb Left Behind campaign is to ensure that we are helping as many culinary businesses stay afloat as the world recovers from the pandemic,” said Derek Robinson, Black Restaurant Week marketing director.

“We are adding more activations and working with additional partners to present programming to serve our full audience of restaurants, bakeries, caterers, chefs, and food trucks.”

Rhonda Walker is the owner and chef of the newly opened black-owned restaurant, Creole with a Splash of Soul, in The Grove.

It has always been Walker’s dream to open a restaurant, and as a registered nurse, she fully understands the impact COVID-19 has had on the community.

She just opened her doors two months ago and says The Grove community and her fellow nurses have shown an outpour of support, but events like Black Restaurant Week can help her with advertisement while she prepares for what this next wave of the pandemic may bring. 

“I’ve always wanted to open a restaurant. So while everyone was running away from the restaurant industry, I was running towards the restaurant industry,” Walker said.

Creole with a Splash of Soul joins local favorites like Prime 55, Gourmet Soul, Kitchen 4AM, Tasty Treats Snacks & Catering, Steve’s Hotdogs, and others on the list of St. Louis participants in this year’s event.

In these times of financial uncertainty and the escalation of racial injustice incidents, Black Restaurant Week, LLC has waived the financial participation fee for all restaurants.

Walker admitted she does not know what the future may hold, but she has been thankful for all of the support she has received this far and looks forward to meeting new diners who stop by throughout BRW.