MKE Black Restaurant Week returns with social distancing in mind

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Black Restaurant Week returns May 11-17, with Milwaukee restaurateurs bringing good food to the city during these unprecedented times. 

The annual event, sponsored in partnership with the African American Chamber of Commerce and BlankSpaceMKE, will showcase more than 20 black-owned restaurants that feature African American, African and Caribbean cuisines and celebrate social entrepreneurship. Milwaukee held its first Black Restaurant week in 1995.

One of the participating restaurants is Mi Casa Su Café on N. MLK Drive near the Harambee neighborbood. For nearly three years, Chef Paul Whigham has been serving delicious, but healthy comfort food at the establishment.

“One of the most popular dishes here is the shrimp and grits,” he said.

However this year, due to the pandemic organizers say it’s unlike any other. “We were nervous about how to keep people safe, and how to be able to continue operating the way we normally have in past years,” said Bridget Robinson, Co-Founder of BlankSpaceMKE.

They put in place certain measures and guidelines to practice social distancing and ensure safety.

“Curbside call-ins and pickups, and most of the time we have people that wanna do walk-ins," Whigham said.

According to a news release, the restaurant industry -- specifically black-owned restaurants -- has been deeply impacted by the coronavirus outbreak and face tremendous hardships. Like many small businesses, many were not able to benefit from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). 

“A lot of small businesses are gonna go out of business because of that. They don’t have time to wait around for the second wave of loans to go through.”

In the meantime, Whigham will be doing what he does best to save his restaurant. "This place is everything. Besides my family, this right here is my life.”

Participating restaurants will offer items from a limited menu. Pre-orders are strongly recommended. Non-cash transactions are preferred.

For the full list of restaurants featured during Milwaukee Black Restaurant Week, CLICK HERE

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