When I first moved to Brooklyn I didn’t know what to do or where to go and I really didn’t know where the Black people were socializing. That all changed when a friend introduced me to I Don’t Do Clubs, an event blog for young Black professionals who want to socialize at events beyond the typical club scene.
I was astounded and a little overwhelmed by the list of 100 Black-Owned Restaurants and Bars in New York City and Brooklyn complied by Genese Jamilah, the founder of I Don’t Do Clubs and Digital Production Manager of EBONY Magazine.
During my first few months in New York I checked out many restaurants on the list so I was extremely excited to see that Genese curated a Black-Owned Restaurant Month for New York.
For just $35 you can choose a custom three-course prix fixe dinner on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 13 Black-Owned Restaurants in New York City and Brooklyn. Black-Owned Restaurant Month starts Wednesday, September 9, 2015 and ends Wednesday, September 30, 2015.
Participating Restaurants include Amarachi, BLVD Bistro, The Crabby Shack, The Edge, Elberta Restaurant and Bar, LoLo’s Seafood Shack, Rustik Tavern, Seasoned Vegan, Shanes Brooklyn, Sweet Science, and Therapy Wine Bar. Check out I Don't Do Clubs for more information on each restaurant.
I had the pleasure to talk to Genese about I Don’t Do Clubs and New York’s first Black-Owned Restaurant Month.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
FH: Can you tell me about your background and what you did before founding I Don’t Do Clubs?
GJ: I’m originally from Stone Mountain, GA. I moved to New York right after college. I attended Savannah State University where I majored in mass communications. I was not able to land a job in television production so I went into digital. Before I Don’t Do Clubs and before Ebony I managed various websites so I have a large digital background. That’s how I was able to run I Don’t Do Clubs successfully.
FH: Did you expect I Don’t Do Clubs to gain as much popularity as it has now?
GJ: Absolutely not. I was reading the Laws of Blogging by Angel Laws because I wanted to know how blogging was done since I was working with bloggers at my full time job. So I read the book for my own knowledge, not because I wanted to start a blog or anything. It happened to be the same weekend that a hurricane came to New York City. The subways were shut down for an entire weekend so I was pretty much locked in the house. However, I still had Internet so I decided I could probably set up a website. That’s how I came up with the blog.
FH: Why did you decide to create lists of Black-owned restaurants?
GJ: Well I’ve always supported Black-owned businesses. That was ingrained in me since my childhood. When I moved to New York I would always ask, "Where is the black dentist?" and "Where is the black doctor?" But a lot of my friends didn’t know. This shocked me because in Atlanta every thing is Black-owned so it’s kind of hard not to support Black-owned business. So this was always in the back of my mind. Then after Michael Brown was killed an organization started a boycott to not purchase items on a certain day and I thought that was a really good place to start. That’s what made me think further about how can I push Black businesses to the forefront. We spend so much money and a lot of the time it's not in our community. So earlier this year I asked my instagram followers, "What Black restaurants do you go to in your area?" I had all of these great responses and realized people really do want to know where the Black-owned restaurants are. That’s why I started doing the list.
FH: How difficult was it for you to create these lists?
GJ: It wasn’t that hard. When someone gives me a name I Google it and find the restaurant's website. So it’s not that hard because my social media followers help a great deal by giving me suggestions. And because I have followers from all over it’s not that difficult to find restaurants in other cities. It’s just siting down and doing it that takes time. I actually have a lot of lists I need to create for other cities.
FH: When exactly did you decide to turn the lists into Black-Owned Restaurant Month?
GJ: It was early summer, maybe around May or April. I started thinking, "How can I continue to support these black businesses?" Yes, the list is cool but how are people going to remember to go these places all the time. There needed to be a bigger spotlight on theses establishments so that’s when I decided to create Black-Owned Restaurant Month.
FH: Do you have any advice for people who don't live in New York on how they can incorporate more Black-owned restaurants and businesses into their lives?
GJ: Well soon I will have Black-owned restaurants lists for all major cities, but just Google. It’s really not that hard to find Black-owned restaurants. If you know a Black area in your town, 9 times out of 10 there will probably a few restaurants that are Black-owned. It’s as simple as asking an establishment if their restaurant is Black-owned.
FH: Is there anything else you would want our readers to know about Black-Owned Restaurant Month?
GJ: I just want everyone to come out and go to at least one restaurant the month. Tweet and instagram your pictures and let us know how it goes. Its really important for us to support each other.
Black-owned restaurant month will be coming to Atlanta in October! Visit Idontdoclubs.com for more information.
Alexis Jackson is a visual artist, writer, and editorial assistant at For Harriet. You can follow her on twitter @_alexisjacks.