Supporting Black communities and Black-owned businesses is an ongoing commitment for all of us — and not just during Black History Month. At the first annual Main Street Strong Restaurant Conference, entrepreneurs and industry leaders from around the country talked about the challenges facing Black-owned restaurants and how we — as an industry and as individuals — can offer meaningful support.
The Stark Reality
The pandemic has devastated businesses across a wide range of industries. According to the National Restaurant Association, 1 in 6 restaurants closed their doors in the first six months alone. For others, remaining open is a daily struggle.
The crippling impact of COVID-19 has disproportionately affected businesses owned by people of color; it’s estimated that 40% of Black-owned businesses will not outlast the pandemic.
At the inaugural Main Street Strong Restaurant Conference, these inequities were front and center at the Promoting Equity for Black-Owned Businesses & Communities panel.
Katherine Lynch, Senior Manager at Kiva, a nonprofit organization that provides loans to underserved entrepreneurs, pointed out that the ability to weather an unforeseen disaster depends on capital. “There are barriers to accessing capital that are more pronounced for entrepreneurs of color,” she noted. “Those that have access to loans and capital will survive, and those that don’t are going to have a hard time.”
While these inequities are not unique to the restaurant industry — there are things we can do, as businesses and individuals, to support Black communities and Black-owned businesses.
Supporting Black-Owned Businesses
Be a customer.
Prioritize supporting Black-owned businesses. You can find Black-owned businesses near you using DoorDash (check out the Black-owned tag) or by doing your own online research. Lewis Rudd, President and co-founder of Ezell’s Famous Chicken, is a member of Peace Peloton, a group of cyclists who ride together to different Black-owned businesses in the Seattle area.
The focus there is on riding around the neighborhood, the city, the county and selecting Black-owned businesses. There’s been as many as 325 of us riding together and patronizing those businesses.
Lead with your values.
That’s the advice Kirby Bumpus, Head of Social Impact and Inclusion at Sweetgreen, gave to Main Street Strong Restaurant Conference attendees. Whether you’re a small local business or a national chain, your impact matters.
We raised funds to support legislative efforts to help save local restaurants. While we’re not an independent restaurant, we wanted to do our part to support our community.
Give what you can.
There are also ways that you as a business can support Black-owned businesses in your area. This includes partnering with a Black-owned business to offer a special item or promoting a Black-owned business on your social media platforms.
Another example? When Ezell’s Famous Chicken received a PPP loan, they made a point to support another local Black-owned business by paying for six months of print and copy services in advance.
It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a community to raise a business.
Celebrating Black History Month at DoorDash
At the end of the Main Street Strong Restaurant Conference, DoorDash CEO Tony Xu talked about the importance of access and opportunity.
“Talent is evenly distributed — access and opportunity aren’t,” he said.
That’s why DoorDash has launched multiple DoorDash initiatives to support Black-owned restaurants, including a special promotion in honor of Black History Month.
For every order placed at a Black-owned business during the month of February, we’ll donate $1 (up to $100,000 total), splitting the funds equally between Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice and the National Black Food and Justice Alliance.*
As a company, we are committed to continuing taking action through our product, our platform, and our resources — and we hope you’ll join us.
* Donations will be distributed through Round It Up America, up to $100,000.