[embed-1]KJ Kearney launched Black Food Fridays on April 5, stemming from a desire to help black-owned restaurants struggling through the coronavirus pandemic. Kearney’s message is simple: Order from black-owned restaurants on Friday and post about it using the hashtag #BlackFoodFridays. Kearney is also asking for submissions via direct message to the Instagram account @blackfoodfridays.

You might already know Kearney as the founder of Red Rice Day in Charleston, creator a recent map of black-owned restaurants in town in February, and a contributor to the City Paper, among other things.

City Paper: When did you get the idea for Black Food Fridays?

KJ Kearney: When COVID-19 first hit, I threw out a bunch of links on Twitter to black-owned restaurants to help them drum up business. I sent the links to a friend of mine, and she said I had a platform and had to be responsible about how I use it. My idea was to create a hashtag that lived outside of me. I wanted to create awareness around the fact that some of these black businesses might never recover.
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CP: What has the response been like so far?

KJ: What’s been happening is people are reaching out directly asking how they can help. They want to know what restaurants they should be ordering from. We received a big donation before I even set up a way to collect them. The most promising thing out of all this is that people have been sharing Black Food Fridays without knowing it was my thing. This thing is bigger than me, and I’m finding businesses all over the nation to amplify the initiative.

CP: What was your first local shout-out on Black Food Fridays? 

KJ: JA Moore’s catering company Lillie Ollie was the first Charleston shout-out. We just started, and I’m interested to see what Charleston places people start mentioning.

CP: What are your future hopes for Black Food Fridays?

KK: I understand that every restaurant is going through it right now, but statistically showing, minority-owned restaurants do not have the same ability to recover from disasters. Black Food Fridays is for everyone who has the funds to support these restaurants. We cannot have a full culinary scene if all culinary arts and histories are not represented. I hope BFF will help these places get the credit they deserve.

Follow KJ on Instagram at at @kjbeenya and @blackfoodfridays.