3rd Annual DMV Black Restaurant Week is A Collaborative COVID-19 Cause

West African Flavors for the Soul

DMV Black Restaurant Week is from Nov. 8- Nov. 15. (Courtesy Photo)

By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. Editor

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, from Nov. 8 through Nov. 15, DMV Black Restaurant Week is back for its third annual year, with the 2020 focus surrounding resiliency and collaboration during these unprecedented times.  

Curated by the event’s co-founders, Dr. Erinn Tucker, Furard “Chef Tate” Tate and Andra “AJ” Johnson, the 2020 DMV Restaurant Week theme is “The Power of Collaboration: Recovery in the Midst of COVID-19,” and includes the third annual (and first virtual) Food and Beverage Education conference from Nov. 10 through Nov. 14.  Following the theme of collaboration, the conference will bring together government agencies, non-profit organizations and private companies in order to assist Black-owned food businesses create strategies, navigate the pandemic and policies and remain afloat despite the challenges presented with COVID-19.

“Collaboration is needed more now than ever before to enhance recovery efforts from the effects of COVID-19,” said Tucker in a statement sent to the {AFRO}. 

In addition to the need for collaboration, the event’s co-founders acknowledged the costliness associated with the pandemic and worked with sponsors and partners in order to make the conference accessible for all Black food-business owners.

“We’re thankful to our sponsors and partners who have made food businesses participation and conference attendance free, removing barriers to owners who need critical information to create sustainable business models to include collaborations that make sense for the communities they serve and for their business goals and growth,” Tucker added.

In addition to the conference is the long list of businesses to support during DMV Black Restaurant Week and beyond.  There are about 80 participating Black-owned food businesses on the DMV Black Restaurant website, including the fine Ghanian cuisine at Appioo, which this reporter recently visited for an intimate press dinner.

The food and drinks at Appioo were extraordinary, however, if you’re like this reporter and miss world traveling because of the pandemic, a visit or delivery order from this restaurant will make patrons feel as if they’ve been temporarily transported to Ghana for authentic, memorable West African flavors.

Now in full transparency, the press dinner was not this reporter’s first trip to Appioo, however this was the first time that I tasted anything other than my favorite fried fish options with their famous jollof rice, neither of which I ordered this time around.

Appioo’s Chef Prince Matey has taken much of what he learned and experienced in his home country of Ghana and brought the rich flavors of the palm nut and other West African ingredients to 1924 9th Street Northwest, D.C., near the U Street Corridor.  

Even with the harsh sting of the pandemic, Appioo is finding a way to serve those who place reservations and pick-up or delivery orders.

“Making the pivot was difficult initially, but with support from the D.M.V. with take-out and delivery, we’ve been able to slide by.  We are happy to welcome diners back into the restaurant with updated safety measures and socially distanced dining,” Chef Matey told the AFRO.

Following this year’s theme, “the power of collaboration, the chef and entrepreneur explained the importance of participating in the third-annual event despite major shifts and hits to the restaurant industry with the pandemic.

Now more than ever we are realizing that we are stronger together.  Building and supporting each other as a community will make everyone more successful,” Matey said.  “D.C. is one of the nation’s top food cities and that is in part due to the array of culinary talent, styles and types of food offered by the city’s Black talent including food from the diaspora like the Ghanaian cuisine we offer here at Appioo.  No other city can boast the array of options from the global Black diaspora like we can here in DC and we are happy to be a part of that community.”

Appioo’s DMV Black Restaurant Week specials are their Grilled or Fried Tilapia for $18 or Garden Egg Stew (seasonal) with boiled yam or plantain, which this reporter had at the most recent visit– it was delicious, filling and packed with pleasant flavors that some people may experience for the very first time.   

“We offer delivery on Doordash and Uber Eats, Pick-up via DC To Go-Go or call in as well as reduced dine-in,” Matey told the AFRO.

For more information on DMV Black Restaurant Week, including the many other local Black-owned restaurants participating, visit:  https://www.dmvbrw.com/ and to taste some of the specific offerings at Appioo visit: http://www.appiooafricanbargrill.com.