Black Restaurant Week spotlights Tampa Bay area businesses

Black Restaurant Week is back and bigger than ever. It started in Texas in 2016 and has since expanded across the country, including Florida and the Tampa Bay area.

Through events and promotions, Black Restaurant Week strives to introduce culinary businesses and professionals to its community.

“It’s really important to us to make sure they’re supported and open doors. A lot of times you hear people say, ‘Oh, if I knew they were there, I’d support it.'” That’s what we’re trying to do here. We’re here to raise awareness,” said Managing Partner Falayn Ferrell.

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Organizers say there are more than 100 participants across Florida this year, including M&R Catering and Café in East Tampa. Maria and Eric Rumlin opened the restaurant in 2019 to expand their offerings, but they didn’t know that COVID was coming soon, and they had more than that to overcome.

“Before we got here, we got over the idea that people told us no one made it,” Eric Rumlin said. “Everyone who came was built in the last six months. We went into the building and the coronavirus came out of nowhere. The construction came out of nowhere. My son’s cancer came out of nowhere.”

In those tough times, they remember why they started their business. Maria Rumlin says her mother inspired many of the recipes she uses.

“My mom would literally sit me at the counter when I was a kid and I’d watch her cook,” says Maria Rumlin.

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She said she is grateful for opportunities like Black Restaurant Week that allow her to share her inspiration and recipes with more people.

“We’re an inner city mom-and-pop, so we don’t have a lot of exposure. So having time for someone to come in and amplify our business has been a lifesaver for us,” Maria Rumlin said.

That’s the goal, organizers say, and they hope to continue their support throughout the year.

“We’re here to raise awareness. We’re campaigning for more than a week,” Ferrer said. “Black Restaurant Week is not just a week. It’s a movement.”

This year’s Black Restaurant Week ends on Sunday, November 20th. For a list of participating restaurants, visit

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