PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Black Restaurant Week kicked off Friday, shining a spotlight on the flavors of African American, African and Caribbean cuisine while offering special deals for diners.
Twenty-two restaurants are participating from neighborhoods across Philadelphia.
One of the 22 local restaurants on board is brand new and just opened in West Philadelphia - in the middle of the pandemic. Black Restaurant Week is a chance to introduce their restaurant, and their dream, to everyone in the city.
"Everyone looked at us said, 'What are you doing? What are you thinking?' Because businesses everywhere were shutting down," says Jennifer K. Smith, the CEO of Imperial Caribbean and Seafood.
Less than two months ago, in the middle of a pandemic, Imperial Caribbean and Seafood opened its doors, and it's outdoor garden and cabana, right in the heart of the West Philadelphia Lancaster corridor.
"We have a focus on bringing really good food, comfort food and quality food to a neighborhood that really is a food desert," Smith said.
The owners had the space, the dream to bring more jobs to the area and to an industry that's been suffering.
"We really use people from the neighborhood to try to work here because they know this neighborhood best," Smith said.
The menu is inspired by their travels.
"Our motto is Caribbean seafood with soul," she said.
The food also has a twist, like the jerk chicken lasagna. Sautéed blue crabs and collard greens are just some of the dishes Imperial is serving up for Black Restaurant Week.
"We also are going to have some delicious honey jerk chicken, and rice and peas," Smith said. "Our macaroni and cheese is ridiculous."
The founders started Black Restaurant Week five years ago.
This year they're waiving the participation fees, knowing that our small businesses need our help now more than ever.
"On average, we see for most of the participants, a 20% to 25% increase in business by participating in this campaign," says Warren Luckett the Founder of Black Restaurant Week.
Imperial Caribbean and Seafood also love the opportunity to celebrate Black cuisine.
"Especially in this neighborhood, we really want to make people feel that our ethnicity matters, our culture matters, and it's something that can be done well," Smith says.
Black Restaurant Week runs today through October 25. You can dine in person, but also get the deals for pickup or delivery through Black and Mobile, Doordash and Uber Eats.