Black Eats LDN features over 300 restaurants, cafes, bars, and street food spots.
Contribution by Shama Nasinde
The past year was tough on brick and mortar businesses. In 2020 the UK’s restaurant sector faced a 163% rise in unemployment according to the Centre for Retail Research. Black and minority owners were hit the hardest, in part because Black businesses are more likely to hire staff and attract customers from Black and minority communities, who currently have Britain’s highest COVID-19 mortality rate. While dine-in numbers decline, online deliveries are thriving with services like Deliveroo doubling their drivers from 25,000 to 50,000 in 2020.
Clearly, there is enough money in the food economy to keep household names afloat, but what about smaller Black-owned businesses? Enter Black Eats LDN – Britain’s only directory of Black-owned restaurants. Featuring over 300 restaurants, cafes, bars, and street food spots, it’s a quick and convenient way to expand your palette. “I thought there was a gap in the market,” said platform founder Jackson. “I wanted to do something to help the community with the skills that I have.”
Jackson is an avid foodie who has personally eaten at 40 Black-owned restaurants across London. “I’d go out to restaurants, take photos, post it on my Instagram story. People would be like ‘oh my God. Where is this? You should start a food blog,’” he shared. Rather than creating another food blog, Jackson utilised his IT and business background to create Black Eats LDN. “I spent about six to eight weeks just researching. We’ve gone through all the menus and we break it out by cuisine type as well as dietary requirement,” he explained.
The 27-year-old North Londoner ensured that inclusivity was at the foundation of Black Eats LDN’s website design. “We have customers who only eat halal food, customers who are disabled, so we try to make it as easy as possible for everyone,” he said. With the click of a drop-down filter, it’s never been easier to find the perfect food spot in your postcode.
Jackson launched Black Eats LDN five months ago in the heat of a pandemic and a global Black Lives Matter movement. Heightening social tension left people frustrated but also empowered to uplift Black businesses and circulate the Black pound. “Putting money into the community helps create local jobs. Whether it’s seeking funding [or] trying to get an actual establishment, it’s a lot harder for us as Black-owned businesses to actually get onto the market,” he said.
Jackson’s tech initiative is raising the profile of Black-owned restaurants, many of whom are disproportionately excluded from government funding. There are around 40,000 Black-owned businesses in the UK, yet a 2013 UK government report found that Black businesses are more likely to have their loan applications rejected than white and Indian businesses.
Jackson hopes to change that by pushing for more corporate collaboration in 2021. “We’re looking to partner with way more companies this year and really elevate these businesses and show them off. The food tastes amazing so why not?” he said. His platform has already caught the attention of Uber. They’re working with Black Eats LDN to help Black businesses with marketing and photography and making it easier for new businesses to join Uber Eats.
Now that there’s a tool to discover which Black-owned restaurants exist on your doorstep, there’s no excuse not to swap your usual Nando’s or Domino’s for some local Caribbean or West African food. From the best spot for a first date to hearty comfort food, Jackson shared a few of his favourite finds across London. Take notes!
A night in: Hot N Juicy Shrimp LDN, Bethnal Green
“It’s a seafood boil spot so you get your bag of shrimps, prawns, boiled potato, corn. Oh my God, the flavours.”
Caribbean food: Roger’s Kitchen, Camden
“The owner Roger was working in the kitchen for over 19 years before he took over as the owner, so incredible story to open a business during a pandemic.”
African food: Big Town, Elephant & Castle
“It’s about a 10 minute walk from Elephant & Castle. I’d describe it as an Afro-Nando’s. The price is good and it’s a nice relaxed setting. Who doesn’t like an African Nando’s?”
First date: Park’s Edge Bar & Kitchen, Herne Hill
“You go through the door, they ask if you can take your jacket off. It’s really high level service. Old school R&B in the background so it’s a nice dim lighting kind of spot.”
Quick lunch: Roti World, Angel
“You’ve got your vegan chickpea options, you’ve got shrimp, you’ve got chicken – something for everyone.”
Comfort food: One Love Kitchen, Finsbury Park
“It’s Jamaican street food and they do delivery so really nice comfort food.”
Plant based: Blank Brixton, Brixton
“Blank Brixton specialise in your brunch items. They’re cafe kind of vibes.”
Online vegan spot: Island Love Gourmet
“If you don’t want to leave your house there’s an online grocery store called Island Gourmet. They give you all types of veganised products straight to your house.”
Contribution by Shama Nasinde