Huntsville restaurants reflect on Black Restaurant Week amid pandemic

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – We’re rounding out the 4th year of Black Restaurant Week here in Huntsville, and those in the industry said this year’s 10-day promotion of black-owned businesses came at the perfect time.

“Because of how the pandemic has affected us, we really needed a push to get us back into people’s minds and hearts and say the Dish is back open,” The Dish General Manager Mya Marcus said.

Marcus said being involved with the celebratory week helps get the word out too about their unique soul food menu.

“We haven’t had the funds to advertise on tv or radio so if other people could come by and enjoy our food. Word of mouth is a really good advertisement,” she said.

Robyn’s Garden Winery is one of the few black-owned wineries in the entire world. They get visitors from all over the country coming to taste their signature wines, and they opened their brick and mortar store in the middle of the pandemic.

“That’s all we’ve ever known is the restrictions and things like that,” Robyn’s Garden co-owner Christine Thompson said. “People are a little less afraid of being out now because they’re getting vaccinated and things like that so we’re just excited to have more people come out and be part of their community.”

Thompson said it was nerve-wracking opening their business during the pandemic, but says now that things are coming under control, people are interested in branching out.

“We’re trying to give exposure to new things, a lot of people have bever been to a winery, they’ve never done wine tastings and we’re able to give them that experience here,” Thompson said.

Both women said they’re grateful to their loyal customers who have kept them going throughout the pandemic, and they’re equally excited to share their restaurants with new guests during this special week, which is coinciding with the celebration of Juneteenth for the first time as a national holiday.

“It’s very historic for us, and it means a lot to African Americans and it should mean a lot to everyone,” Thompson said.

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