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Lexington Betty caramel cake
Photograph: GazLexington Betty caramel cake

Everything you need to know about Chicago Black Restaurant Week 2021

Here's what you need to know about the annual foodie event.

By
Morgan Olsen
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Chicago Black Restaurant Week is back for its sixth year of spotlighting local Black-owned eateries through dining discounts. This year, for the first time ever, the annual event will extend from one week to two, stretching from Sunday, February 7 through Sunday, February 21.

"The decision to extend Chicago Black Restaurant Week an additional week this year was centered around the impact of the pandemic," says founder Lauran Smith. "Black businesses suffered tremendously as a result of having to bring regular operations to a halt."

The foodie affair was founded in 2015 by Smith, who recognized that Black-owned businesses "needed their own week of support, allowing everyone to get a chance to taste the goodness in the community." Smith has always timed the event to the second week of February, which was once known as "Negro History Week," an annual celebration of African-American achievements that was started by historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926. In the '70s, the weeklong event blossomed into something much bigger: Black History Month. Smith says that she likes to pay homage to Woodson's original legacy by aligning Chicago Black Restaurant Week with the second week of February.

Last year, Smith and her team were able to point Chicagoans to more than 30 Black-owned restaurants. For 2021, the list has expanded to include more than 100 eateries located in every corner of the city.

"These businesses are owned by Black men and women who depend on their restaurants' success to feed their families and to further fund the daily operations of the business that they run," Smith says. "I seek to help them recover the best way that I know how: Chicago Black Restaurant Week."

Take a look at the full list of participants below and start planning your lunches, dinners and sweet fixes around Chicago Black Restaurant Week now through February 21.

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