Our list is still incomplete. Know a business we missed? Let us know at [email protected]
Amid protests focusing the nation’s attention on systemic racism, Black-owned small businesses will have to weather what could be the worst economic downturn in recent memory caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has only aggravated existing inequities. In March, Congress passed the CARES Act, which included the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.
Policymakers intended for the PPP to protect at-risk small businesses with loans, but only 12% of Black and Latino business owners who applied for the PPP received the full aid they requested, according to Forbes. Because it is more difficult for small business owners from minority communities to secure PPP loans, the pandemic will hurt them more than their white counterparts.
Listed below are Black-owned shops and restaurants you can help support, as well as organizations working to fight systemic racism and its effects. Two businesses, Everard’s Clothing and Georgetown Butcher, are in the Georgetown neighborhood. It is by no means an exhaustive list.
Black-Owned Restaurants in Washington, D.C.
- Georgetown Butcher: The brand new shop opened in March, aiming to fill the gourmet grocery void left when Dean & DeLuca closed in August 2019. Georgetown Butcher carries a variety of grocery items, not just gourmet meats and sandwiches. Owner Wendell Allsbrook also offers a knife-sharpening program, according to Washingtonian. You can order online, but the store is back to operating according to its normal opening hours.
- Ben’s Chili Bowl: Founded in 1958, the D.C. landmark has seen the U Street corridor evolve for over half a century, and it survived the 1968 riots after the assasination of Martin Luther King, Jr. In 2010, the restaurant expanded to include Ben’s Chili Bowl Foundation, which has recently committed to provide meals to COVID-19 first responders across the city, with all donations to the foundation going toward this cause. Restaurant locations on H Street and U Street are currently open for curbside pickup, carryout and delivery.
- NuVegan Cafe: Aiming to build a cultural community across the city with vegan food, this family-owned business operates four locations in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area as well as a seasonal food truck. As the restaurant continues to grow, NuVegan has partnered with city organizations to aid in youth education and business development support initiatives. All locations are currently open for carryout and delivery.
- Zenebech: In 1993, Zenebech Dessu and Gebrehanna Demissie started this restaurant — then a bakery — after losing their jobs. Over the course of more than 20 years, the small bakery, known for its injera, a sour fermented flatbread popular in Ethiopia, has relocated to its current location in Adams Morgan. Zenebech is open for carryout and delivery.
- Oohh’s & Aahh’s: Located in Cardozo, this restaurant, known for its southern soul menu, has transitioned to a carryout- and delivery-only system as part of the ongoing effort to slow the community transmission of COVID-19.
- Büna Coffeehouse: This Ethiopian coffee house, named after the Amharic word for coffee, was founded just over a year ago. Owners Senaite Abewbaw and her husband Mastewal Worku met in Petworth, a residential neighborhood in northeast D.C., 30 years ago. Büna Coffeehouse is open with adjusted hours for carryout only.
- Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats: Reminiscent of 1950s soda bars, food at Goodies is served from a vintage van that travels across the District to new locations daily. Updates on weekend locations are posted weekly on Instagram.
- Calabash Tea & Tonic: With locations in Shaw and Brookland, this shop offers treatments for anxiety, allergies and other ailments through herbal remedies, something not often available in inner cities, according to owner Sunyatta Amen. Though storefront locations are temporarily closed, online orders can be placed.
- Here’s the Scoop!: This small sweets shop in Park View is the only hand-dipped ice cream shop in the lower Georgia Avenue corridor of the District and features rising young Black bakers from the area. The shop is only open for pickup at this time.
- Half Smoke: Located on the intersection of Florida and Georgia avenue in the District’s Shaw neighborhood, Half Smoke offers classic American dishes with a modern twist. Costumers can order for takeout or no-contact delivery.
- EatOkra: Featuring over 1,700 businesses, this app allows users to search for Black-owned restaurants in D.C. and in other major U.S. cities.
Black-Owned Shops in D.C.
- Everard’s Clothing: Everard’s is an upscale boutique on Wisconsin Avenue that offers made-to-measure men’s and women’s clothing as well as tailoring and alterations. While the brick-and-mortar store is closed for the time being, Everard’s is accepting appointments and orders online.
- Sankofa Video, Books & Cafe: Founded in 1998, Sankofa, meaning “going back to our past in order to go forward” in Adinkra, was created to develop a community for artists interested in film, literature and events featuring the work of Black artists. While the store in Columbia Heights is currently closed, online orders can be placed.
- District of Clothing: SInce 2014, this lifestyle brand and clothing company has featured the work of designers and makers who promote action and progression for the Black community. District of Clothing partners with organizations such as Stand With Black Women — a branch of Planned Parenthood specifically supporting Black women — the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the Washington Area Women’s Foundation. Items can be purchased online.
- Frères Branchiaux Candle Co.: Based in D.C., this company was created by three young brothers looking for ways to increase their allowance. In partnership with their parents, the brothers sell candles and home fragrances that promote eco-conscious consumerism through handmade products. Orders can be placed online, and 10% of all profits support D.C. homeless shelters.
- Mahogany Books: This local independent bookstore is dedicated to promoting leadership in the Black community through books written by, for or about people of the African Diaspora. Mahogany Books is open for curbside pick up and online orders.
- Black Pepper Paperie Co.: BPPCo., a studio space and online purchasing platform, is a small independent lifestyle brand that focuses on globally inspired and handcrafted products such as home decor, paper goods, jewelry and apparel. Items are available for purchase online.
D.C. Organizations Supporting Protests and Black Businesses:
- Black Artists of D.C.: BADC began in 1999 to enrich local, national and global communities with the culture and heritage of artists of African descent through exhibitions and community events. Though BADC venues have closed during COVID-19 shutdowns, the organization continues to call for the support of Black artists. Donate or join online.
- Black Lives Matter D.C.: A chapter of the national organization Black Lives Matter, BLM D.C. aims to build campaigns to end systems of oppression through organized resistance.
- Freedom Fighters D.C.: This group has organized and led protests for over a week in D.C., including a fundraising movement titled “Freedom Fighters DC Fund” that supports people arrested during recent protests.
- Life Pieces to Masterpieces: LPTM is an educational nonprofit operating in Wards 7 and 8. LPTM offers extensive after-school programming to young Black boys. The organization focuses on community-building and self-expression and presents a secure and productive space for its members to explore music, the visual arts and other extracurricular activities. Visit the website to donate, volunteer or partner with LPTM on events or campaigns.
- NAACP, Washington, D.C. Branch: Originally chartered in 1913, the D.C. branch of the NAACP has worked to eliminate racial hatred and discrimination for over a century, focusing on criminal justice, economic empowerment, education, health and political action. The organization accepts donations on its website.
- National Coalition of 100 Black Women: Although the group was officially founded in 1981, it takes its name from the original coalition of women who worked to fight root causes of gender and racial inequity in New York City in the 1970s. Membership now far exceeds just 100 women, with 60 total chapters in 28 different states, including Washington, D.C. Donate online and help the coalition’s initiative to make sure underserved communities fill out the 2020 Census.
- National Museum of African American History & Culture: Though the Smithsonian Institute museums have closed because of the pandemic, the museum depends on donations to continue its work in sharing the experiences of Black people. In May, the museum launched “Talking About Race,” a new online portal that gives people access to digital resources such as scholarly articles and online activities that promote racial equality.
- The Black Book of Georgetown: A collaborative project published April 27, “The Black Book of Georgetown” chronicles the history of Black Georgetown. Written by the Black community to help Black students’ college transition, it includes a full list of off-campus resources as well as information about on-campus clubs and organizations. Contact [email protected] with questions.