Chicago Sun-Times | Manny Ramos | February 7, 2020

Jacqulyn Hill, owner of Whipped Inc., sees Chicago Black Restaurant Week as a way to expand her business.

A weeklong event celebrating black-owned restaurants in the Chicago area kicks off Sunday with 36 businesses participating.

The fifth annual Chicago Black Restaurant Week is expected to see an uptick in patrons as more eateries will be near the University of Illinois at Chicago campus and it features its first vegan restaurant.

Restaurant week will run through Feb. 16.

“I think this is a great opportunity for black-owned businesses that don’t get a chance to shine during the regular restaurant week,” said Jacqulyn Hill, owner of Whipped Inc. “This is specialized for us, and it gives people an opportunity to taste food from places you didn’t know existed.”

For the second year Hill’s boutique catering company — launched with help from her friend Exie Clark Jr. — will sell gourmet desserts and appetizers. Her catering company is known for stuffed mushrooms and rose water-infused cupcakes.

Her promotional menu this year offers seafood primavera, a jerk chicken salad and dessert jars. Each item costs $10.20, with the 20 cents a nod to 2020’s Chicago Black Restaurant Week.

Hill said all her orders should be done online and will be ready for pickup within 24 hours at 15525 South Park Ave. in South Holland.

Other restaurants include Windy City Ribs & Whiskey, 67 E. Cermak Road; Soul Shack, 1368 E. 53rd St.; and Irie Jerk Bar & Grill, 3404 N. Clark St. A full list of participants can be found on Chicago Black Restaurant Week’s website.

Lauran Smith, founder of Chicago Black Restaurant Week, said last year’s event brought in more than $24,000.

“This event is helping the community support black-owned restaurants and help funnel money into a business that is often extremely difficult to maintain,” Smith said. “Not many businesses last long in the food industry.”

Chicago Black Restaurant Week’s Facebook page will showcase the promotional deals each business is offering.

Manny Ramos is a corps member in Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of issues affecting Chicago’s South and West sides.