Somehow, iloveblackfood.com was still available when William “Dub” Travis III went looking for domain names to create a digital home base for Support Black-Owned Restaurants week.
“We got it now,” Travis says with a smile.
Now in its third year in Portland, Support Black-Owned Restaurants expanded from a two-day event to a full week, August 21-27, and will include eclipse specials and a block party at Travis’ famous chicken and waffles joint Dubs St. Johns on Sunday. Trying to pack it all into a weekend was proving too much, thanks to the outpouring of support the restaurants were getting, Travis says.
“The past two years have been incredibly busy (for Dub’s), but some of the other restaurants’ feedback was that they didn’t get as much business,” he explains. “We’re doing the whole week to give people a chance to spread it out.”
Travis has been at his location in the back section of the Ranger Tavern at 9520 N Lombard in St. John’s since 2013, after a fire ripped through the original Mack & Dub’s Excellent Chicken and Waffles on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The fortuitous pairing means you can have a crisp tall boy from the bar with your fried chicken wings, which over the years have evolved into a perfectly spiced and breaded affair, best served over waffles with hot sauce.
The Support Black Restaurants event, which started after Portland resident Bertha Pearl was inspired by a similar event in San Francisco, is a symbol of “perseverance through the struggle,” as well as just a respite from flavor fatigue, Travis says. He’s had customers say that before the event, they’d never tried Ethiopian food, or Jamaican jerk chicken.
And with more than 60 participating brick-and-mortar restaurants, coffee shops and carts, there’s a huge diversity in the businesses owned by Black Portlanders. Participants include Amalfi’s Italian, Olive Or Twist martini bar in the Pearl, a McDonald’s franchise in Milwaukie and Solae’s Lounge, a jazz bar on Alberta.
“Portland’s a big foodie town,” Travis says. “You can be the hot thing today, and not tomorrow. This week gives people something new to try, and I think it should be a celebration.”