Black Restaurant Challenge stirs up awareness in Baltimore

CANTON, Md. - The latest hot challenge is right out of Baltimore and it's spreading like wildfire.

A Facebook video discussing the Black Restaurant Challenge, "started getting more hits than we could actually possibly imagine," Host Casey Jenkins said.

The idea started with the viral Ice Bucket Challenge spreading ALS awareness. Jenkins and a few close friends turned the call to spread word of mouth eateries owned by African Americans in the city.

"We couldn't do Restaurant Week because our price-points are already extremely low and also we can't offer three courses at that cost and a lot of us at that time didn't have liquor licenses," Jenkins said. Jenkins owns Birdland Sports Bar and Grill.

Jenkins explained the eateries involved in this challenge encompass restaurants, carry-outs, delis, and grocery stores.

The challenge is this:

During the month of February, choose 2 African American Eateries and post your videos to our Facebook and Instagram pages and receive discounts from over 20 African American owned restaurants.

The goal, helping local business owners, like Sean Guy with Water For Chocolate.

The unique name of his restaurant a reference to one of his favorite books, "it's whatever emotions she felt when she cooked, you would share it when you eat so it's about conveying an emotion through food."

When you step into his cozy Canton restaurant, you feel like you're going home. A gorgeous picture of the Inner Harbor adorns the wall, a chalkboard menu Guy creates each morning greets you, as well as his smiling face.

In the kitchen, he's in his own world, creating happiness, "It's comfort, it's life, it's a way for me to speak," Guy said.

The atmosphere, picked up by guests, "sometimes people share dishes. They're like, 'Yeah, you want a taste?' I'm like you don't even know this guy, it's crazy the stuff that goes on in here," he said.

Guy was involved the first year the challenge kicked off, it was small, just him and one other business.

"It gives the person that's visiting Baltimore a chance to see the diversity in cuisine," Guy says it gives him and other owners much needed publicity too. This is the second year, and a kickoff event that's already sold out will give people a taste of what's to come.

The goal, for everyone to leave patrons full of good food and fond memories, and the idea to branch out, in turn supporting local.

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