CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — 217 Black Restaurant Weekend kicked off on Friday, and the celebration continues today. Participating restaurant owners say it’s about the importance of unity between black-owned establishments.
The event was organized by Buy Black Chambana.
Meals bring people together and this month, both food and diversity are being celebrated.
217 Black Restaurant Weekend spotlighted businesses in Champaign County, specifically in light of Juneteenth.
“Just in reality we’re not in competition with each other,” said Michael McDonald, the owner of Wood N’ Hog Barbecue in Urbana. “This community is so diverse. This just gives all of us an opportunity to highlight our specialties and highlight our gifts.”
The event highlighted a spirit of solidarity between different establishments.
At Wood N’ Hog in Urbana, owners there say it’s important to focus on the variety of foods the black community brings to the table.
“It’s just another opportunity for us to kind of highlight what we do and give this community a different choice as far as cuisines,” said McDonald.
The owner at Come Get This Food Truck says he wants to make sure his team delivers the highest quality along with good vibes.
“Come Get This is all about energy,” said Jeffery Gilchrist, the owner of the truck. “It’s all about creating energy. Making sure the food is fun, excellent, great, I want people to come, come with energy, have a great Philly cheesesteak.”
He says that it’s important for black-owned businesses to get help and support from each other in order to succeed.
“One thing that I always try to emphasize is that a dream without a plan is a nightmare in hand,” said Gilchrist. “You have to create it, you have to set your goals, you have to meet your goals, and you actually need some help. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help.”
Other restaurants and food trucks also participated in the event, including C&C Kitchen, Brien’s Bistro, and Stango Cuisine.