BlankSpaceMKE, an urban art cooperative, is spreading the message about cooperative economics by establishing Milwaukee Black Restaurant Week. The event returns for its 8th year and is scheduled from Tuesday, April 25th to Sunday, April 30th, 2023. It aims to increase social entrepreneurship and support the sustainability of local businesses, specifically black-owned businesses.
Founded by Bridget Whitaker and Symphony Zawadi, BlankSpaceMKE has been celebrating the entrepreneurship of locally owned black restaurants for the past eight years. This year, over a dozen black-owned restaurants in Milwaukee have signed up to participate in this cooperative economics project, highlighting their creative food art and welcoming new customers across the city to celebrate the culture.
Milwaukee Black Restaurant Week is not a new project. Cities across the country often host an annual restaurant or dining week, offering deals or menu specials to bring in new customers. BlankSpaceMKE has decided to bring the same movement to Milwaukee, directing attention to thriving restaurants that could benefit from exposure and marketing.
To kick off the week of good eats, families and stakeholders are invited to The Sherman Phoenix located at 3536 West Fond du Lac Avenue on Tuesday, April 25th, between 3 pm – 7 pm to patronize the black-owned restaurants within this marketplace as a way to celebrate the 8th year of Milwaukee Black Restaurant Week and to learn more about how to support the project further.
Over the past eight years, participating restaurants have realized a significant increase in sales, with some almost doubling in daily sales amidst a very uncertain and challenging time for small business owners. The surge in media attention and the boost of new customers who placed orders for dine-in, curbside, and delivery helped tremendously in keeping the doors open of many restaurants listed in the lineup today.
So, how does the week work? BlankSpaceMKE researched local black-owned restaurants and asked them to allow inclusion in the project. With their permission, data collection from the week is used to demonstrate the effectiveness of cooperative economics and the significance of the local dollar in sustaining businesses.
Residents of Milwaukee and surrounding communities are asked to visit one or more restaurants on the list, patronize, spend money, eat good food, and document their attendance by “checking in” on social media using the hashtag #MkeBRW23 and taking a photo of their receipt. BlankSpaceMKE also asks that customers share their experiences using the power of social media to help raise awareness about these businesses. All of this data is tracked for their final community report.
It is important to note that this year’s lineup reflects those business owners who signed up to participate as a featured black-owned restaurant for the week. BlankSpaceMKE acknowledges that dozens of other black-owned restaurants were unable to participate at this time.
Elizabeth Eden Harris, known professionally as Cupcakke, is an American rapper from Chicago, Illinois. She is known for her hypersexualised, brazen, and often comical persona
Elizabeth Eden Harris, known professionally as Cupcakke, is an American rapper from Chicago, Illinois. She is known for her hypersexualised, brazen, and often comical persona and music although she has also made songs with themes supporting LGBTQ rights, female empowerment, and autism awareness.
Acclaimed GRAMMY-winning multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello makes her Blue Note Records debut with the June 16 release of The Omnichord Real Book, a visionary
Acclaimed GRAMMY-winning multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello makes her Blue Note Records debut with the June 16 release of The Omnichord Real Book, a visionary and deeply jazz-influenced album that marks the start of a new chapter in her trailblazing career. Following her 2018 covers album Ventriloquism, Meshell returns with an album of new original material that taps into a broad spectrum of her musical roots. The Omnichord Real Book was produced by Josh Johnson and features a wide range of guest artists including Jason Moran, Ambrose Akinmusire, Joel Ross, Jeff Parker, Brandee Younger, Julius Rodriguez, Mark Guiliana, Cory Henry, Joan As Police Woman, Thandiswa, and others.
The Omnichord Real Book is introduced today by the expansive lead single “Virgo,” the mind-altering 8-minute centerpiece of the album which features Meshell on vocals, key bass, and keyboards, Younger on harp, Rodriguez on Farfisa organ, Chris Bruce on guitar, Jebin Bruni on keyboards, drums by Abe Rounds, Deantoni Parks, and Andrya Ambro, and additional vocals by Kenita Miller and Marsha DeBoe. The Omnichord Real Book is available for pre-order now on Blue Note Store exclusive color vinyl, black vinyl, CD, and digital.
“It’s a little bit of all of me, my travels, my life,” says Meshell. “My first record I made at 22, and it’s over 30 years from then, so I have a lot of stored information to share.” Reflecting on the impact that the forced stillness of the pandemic lockdown had on her, she says “I must admit it was a beautiful time for me. I got to really sit and reacquaint myself with music. Music is a gift.”
“This album is about the way we see old things in new ways,” Meshell explains. “Everything moved so quickly when my parents died. Changed my view of everything and myself in the blink of an eye. As I sifted through the remains of their life together, I found my first Real Book, the one my father gave me. I took their records, the ones I grew up hearing, learning, remembering. My mother gifted me with her ache, I carry the melancholy that defined her experience and, in turn, my experience of this thing called life calls me to disappear into my imagination and to hear the music.”
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