Cognizant of the lack of support that many Black-owned businesses receive, truck driver Edward Dillard decided to make a concerted effort to support African American-owned restaurants during his coast to coast shifts on the road. However, when the Delaware native would travel through the outskirts of major cities, he found it hard to locate Black-owned restaurants. Determined to come up with a solution to this dilemma and give African American-owned establishments exposure, he launched a platform called Eat Black Owned; a national directory of Black-owned restaurants.
There is power that lies in the Black dollar. Black buying power is worth $1.2 trillion and that number is expected to grow to $2 trillion by the year 2020. However, the life span of a dollar within the Black community only lasts for six hours. After learning about these statistics, Dillard’s mission to support local Black-owned businesses became bigger than himself and he began laying the foundation for Eat Black Owned to empower other individuals to spend their dollars at Black restaurants.
“The dollar does not circulate in the Black community long at all. I think our community needs to do more to lift ourselves up,” he told NewsOne. “I hope individuals will use this site and find a restaurant to patronize that they never knew about. We spend our money with other communities and rarely ever with our own. If there were more resources for us to locate Black-owned businesses, then I believe more people would support them.”
After five months of research, he compiled a list of over 2,000 restaurants and launched the website in June. Through the site, users can locate Black-owned eateries that are near their geographic location. The site allows restaurant owners and customers to add listings and Dillard created a section for individuals to leave reviews. He specifically wanted to highlight places that were located outside of major cities. Dillard also wanted to ensure that his site was inclusive of different types of businesses. He includes mom-and-pop eateries and restaurants owned by Black celebrities. “I prefer mom-and-pop restaurants because I believe they put more TLC into their food and customer service,” he said.
For Dillard, the positive feedback has been rewarding. As far as what’s on the horizon for Eat Black Owned, Dillard hopes to turn it into an app. He also plans on transforming the platform into a hub for content related to the Black culinary experience and will feature recipes posted by users. Platforms like Dillard’s are needed. Research shows that Black-owned restaurants grew by 49 percent between the years 2007 to 2012.