In a recent report by Blacktech Week, the data showed Memphis is among the top three cities for black entrepreneurs in the country. This month marked my first trip to the Southern city just before their bicentennial anniversary. Much like my hometown of Atlanta, you see beautiful black faces everywhere, which is no surprise given Memphis is 64 percent black.
What I loved about the city (aside from the food) was getting to spend my dollars with black businesses. Here are seven black-owned companies to support the next time you're visiting Memphis Ten.
The Hattiloo is a national treasure. As one of four freestanding Black repertory theatres in the country, thanks to the vision of Ekundayo Bandel. Named in honor of Ekundayo's two daughters, the theatre has grown from a small storefront with a three-person staff to engaging over 5,000 patrons a year. Season 14 will gear up August 9th and run through June 14th of 2020.
Founded by Victoria Jones, the CLTV has become an art space in Memphis' historic Orange Mound that has created a safe space for artists of all types to share their work. Don't forget to take a look at their pop-up shop on the way out. "The Corner Store" has apparel, prints, and handmade jewelry all made by the artists it serves.
Before I landed in Memphis, I'd heard about honey gold wings. As someone who grew up on iconic lemon pepper wings, I didn't think this city could touch us, but I was proved wrong. Lemon pepper will always be my first love, but honey gold is now at the top of my list.
The Four Way
This historic restaurant is the oldest soul food eatery in town, opening its doors in 1946. Having served legends like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the civil rights era, the Four Way, now run by Patrice Bates Thompson, serves up crispy fried chicken, baked mac and cheese, and my all-time favorite — fried green tomatoes.
Cheryl Pesce The Lifestyle Store
Cheryl Pesce nearly got all of my coins. Much like the shops I mentioned above, this boutique located at Crosstown Concourse showcases the work of local makers as well as books filled with brown faces for the little ones.
Mbabazi House of Style
Located on Broad Street, an up and coming area with sidewalks and cute shops, I stumbled upon Mbabazi. The shop is filled with fair trade clothing handmade by Ugandan women at great price points.
Though I didn't get a chance to visit Payne's myself, Victoria (founder of The Collective) made sure we had what she said is "the best BBQ in town." I had a pulled pork sandwich topped with their mustard slaw, and it was everything Victoria said it would be.
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