THE FUTURE OF BOSTON'S BLACK OWNED RESTAURANTS & BARS
STATE OF EMERGENCY
We are in uncharted waters. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every member of our community, the country, and the world. During this devastating public health crisis, we are also forced to grapple with an economic crisis that has disrupted our livelihoods and significantly undermined the financial security of our most vulnerable community members. We write to you today, in partnership with the NAACP - Boston Branch, and on behalf of Boston’s black-owned restaurants and bars, some of which have lost more than 90% of their revenue in the effort to abide by local, state, and federal social distancing guidelines, to ask for your support to ensure that these businesses will continue to exist long after this crisis is over.
As it stands, there are 8 black-owned liquor licenses in the city of Boston. All of them representing decades of advocacy from our elected officials and community-based organizations. Unless a strategic response is implemented immediately, our businesses – neighborhood anchors and pillars that represent an iconic legacy of black entrepreneurship and community development in Boston – will be forced to close their doors forever. Here’s why:
A Snapshot of Boston’s Black-Owned Restaurants & Bars Amidst the Pandemic
90% of our business revenue came from onsite consumption that is no longer possible due to stay-at-home advisories and social distancing guidance;
83% of our businesses are located in Roxbury;
75% of our customer base is people of color (“POC”);
88% of our primarily POC workforce was laid off during this crisis, affecting 116 households;
$1.2 million dollars of estimated lost revenue for the period from March, April, and May 2020
100% of our businesses will have to consider closing doors for good if the status quo continues.
We appreciate the ongoing community and government efforts to support all small businesses during this time. However, to date, the black-owned restaurants and bars represented by this coalition have not received adequate financial support to survive this crisis. Our businesses have an arduous path ahead of us, and we are ned our community's help. We are challenging city and state officials, public and private institutions and individuals with the ability to make a difference to do their part to ensure our historic businesses and dedicated employees can weather this storm and be here to serve our friends, families, and communities once the storm clears.
If nothing is done, the representatives of the coalition will be faced with a financial decision which would ultimately result in the closure of instituions who contributed to the combined 180+ years of service to Boston’s Black community.
Together we can overcome this crisis and preserve every aspect of Boston’s rich history, including its historic black-owned restaurants and bars.
The importance of ensuring that this community’s black-owned restaurants and bars survive this period of economic hardship cannot be overemphasized. Prior to this crisis, black-owned restaurants and bars were already grossly underrepresented within Greater Boston’s robust restaurant and hospitality industry. For example, of the 745 restaurants and bars with full alcoholic beverage licenses, only 3are black-owned (i.e., less than 1%). According to the U.S Department of Commerce, as of 2012, only 4,463 businesses that fall within the accommodation and food services industry were minority-owned (as compared to the 13,705 non-minority-owned businesses). Moreover, only 9% of those 4,463 minority-owned businesses are considered black-owned.
This data was provided by the members of the Boston Black Hospitality Coalition who are listed below.