Black Restaurant Week features 22 Kitchener eateries; runs through Oct. 25

kitchener (WPVI) – Black Restaurant Week kicked off Friday, shedding light on the flavors of Afro-American, African and Caribbean cuisine and offering specials for guests.

22 restaurants from the Kitchener neighborhood are participating.

One of the 22 local restaurants on board is brand new and just opened in West Kitchener – in the middle of the pandemic. Black Restaurant Week is an opportunity to introduce everyone in town to their restaurant and their dream.

“Everyone looked at us and said, ‘What are you doing? What are you thinking?’ Because businesses everywhere were closing, “said Jennifer K. Smith, CEO of Imperial Caribbean and Seafood.

Less than two months ago, in the middle of a pandemic, Imperial Caribbean and Seafood opened their doors and there is an outdoor garden and cabana right in the heart of the West Kitchener Lancaster corridor.

“We’re focused on bringing really good food, home-style cooking and quality groceries to a neighborhood that is truly a food wasteland,” said Smith.

The owners had the space, the dream to create more jobs in the region and in an industry that is suffering as a result.

“We really use the neighborhood people to work here because they know this neighborhood best,” said Smith.

The menu is inspired by their travels.

“Our motto is Caribbean seafood with a soul,” she said.

The food has a twist too, like the jerk chicken lasagna. Sauteed blue crabs and cabbage are just a few of the dishes Imperial is serving for Black Restaurant Week.

“We’re going to have a delicious honey-jerk chicken as well as rice and peas,” said Smith. “Our macaroni and cheese is ridiculous.”

The founders started Black Restaurant Week five years ago.

This year they are waiving the entry fee, knowing that our small businesses need our help now more than ever.

“On average, for most attendees, we see a 20-25% increase in business from participating in this campaign,” said Warren Luckett, founder of Black Restaurant Week.

Imperial Caribbean and Seafood also love the opportunity to celebrate black cuisine.

“Especially in this neighborhood, we want people to feel that our ethnicity and culture are important and that they can be done well,” says Smith.

Black Restaurant Week runs today through October 25th. You can dine in person, but also get the pick-up or delivery deals via Black and Mobile, Doordash and Uber Eats.

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