Black Restaurants Matter

Here’s how to support African American chefs, restaurants in RVA.

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Barbara Bryan and Sam Campbell will celebrate their restaurant’s second anniversary this September. 

LBJ’s @ Traditionz Smokehouse at 4810 Jefferson Davis Highway, an area that Richmond native Bryan says was lacking in soul food options. The former DuPont employee and part-time caterer says it’s always been her dream to be in the food business, even though it means long hours and constant change. 

“With catering you have a set menu, you know how many people there will be – it’s easy to prepare,” Bryan says. “A restaurant, well, every day is different.”

LBJ’s never closed during quarantine and Bryan says the regulars have been a boon to business. But it also relied heavily on both a lunch buffet and Sunday soul food buffet, which she’s obviously had to nix. She says she isn’t sure when it will reopen for patio or dine-in service: “I’ll be honest. I’m not comfortable with how the situation has been handled – the numbers aren’t low enough for me yet.”

The Virginia Department of Health reported 48,532 coronavirus cases June 5. As of April 29, black patients accounted for 58.3% of Richmond area COVID-19 deaths. In a Business Insider article highlighting the discrepancy between races affected by the virus, Richmond Health District Director Danny Avula said this is due to “decades and centuries of structural inequity.”

Until those numbers go down, Bryan says the restaurant will stick to takeout – LBJ’s is open Tuesdays-Sundays for lunch and dinner. You can order comfort eats like barbecue, pigs’ feet, and liver and onions but Bryan says it’s best-known for fusion soul rolls, stuffed with fried chicken, mac and cheese and collard greens. 

Support the black restaurant and food community beyond the protests:

BLK RVA has done the work for you – its comprehensive list of black-owned restaurants can be found at visitblkrva.com/dining. A few highlights include:

The patio is open at Addis Ethiopian. addisrva.com.

Big Herm himself posts heartwarming Facebook live updates daily about the status of the restaurant (It’s open!) facebook.com/Big-Herms-Kitchen-353099361432572

Brewer’s Cafe is open and has $2 lattes from 3-5 p.m.

Shrimps has daily to-go specials like Fish Friday and Wing Wednesday. instagram.com/shrimpsrva.

Get your wine, tapas and art fix at C’est Le Vin, which just opened its patio. instagram.com/cestlevinrva15

Mama J’s has bottled three of its signature cocktails for to-go.

Spoon Bread Bistro is doing special Father’s Day dinners for pre-order. instagram.com/officialspoonbreadbistro.

Richmond Black Restaurant Experience has created a checklist that you can print and post as a reminder that whatever your cravings, there’s a black-owned restaurant for that. Find the list at vablackrestaurantexperience.com.

And donate to help Richmond Black Restaurants here https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-richmonds-blackowned-restuarants. 

Support food sovereignty for the black community by donating to or volunteering with the following organizations:

Resiliency Garden Initiative, run by Duron Chavis, brings raised garden beds to areas of Richmond with high food insecurity. thenaturalfestival.com.

The Southeastern African American Farmers’ Organic Network comprises farms across 10 states including Virginia. civileats.com.

The National Black Farmers Association is a nonprofit based in Virginia representing black farmers and their families. nationalblackfarmersassociation.org

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