Lack of Black restaurants just one ingredient in an unsavory cultural dish
by Mikel Kwaku Osei Holt
It started, as best I can remember, with a ‘four star’ Black restaurant owned by Mark Wade, called Sir Desmond’s. The restaurant was located on 78th and Good Hope Road. Sir Desmond’s was high quality, both in terms of food and customer service. It drew a mixed socioeconomic crowd.
Families were ever present, and area business and middle managers were known to frequent the establishment at lunchtime.
The restaurant was too far from downtown to attract that daytime consumer base. But, even reservations were beneficial for dinner.
The restaurant was sandwiched between Christian Faith and Christ the King Churches, which meant it attracted a nice church crowd on Sundays.
Sir Desmond’s should have prospered. It should have been an anchor for the Black community, a catalyst for a cultural renaissance. Instead it closed within a year.
Then there was the African Hut. Located around the corner from the Bradley Center, it maintained an integrated base of customers. The Hut wasn’t an African American restaurant; it was African, which means a lot to White folks, whether we want to admit it or not. White people have historically treated Africans much better than African Americans. You can figure out why. Or why not?
Last year the Hut closed. The owners said they would reopen. But we knew what that meant.
This year was particularly bad for Black restaurants. One of the remaining ‘four star’ establishments, the Bayou, closed. This time you couldn’t blame its customer base. Instead, questions have been raised–but of course never answered—as to why the city of Milwaukee ‘starved’ the Bayou out. (Pun intended.)
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