Denver Black Restaurant Week: What It Means To Local Owners And A List Of Businesses Participating | Denverite

Rice, macaroni and “The Works” at TK’s Surf & Turf Kitchen in Kennedy. March 13, 2024.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Mississippi Boy Catfish & Ribs owner Ty Allen knew that by dishing out smoked turkey legs, homemade shrimp and sausage gumbo, his Northeast Park Hill restaurant could compete with the flavors offered at five-star establishments across the city. 

Mississippi Boy Catfish & Ribs owner Ty Allen in his Northeast Park Hill establishment. March 13, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

“We can rival them with the environment and we will definitely rival them with the quality of food,” Allen said of his restaurant, which opened in 2021. 

With the return of Black Restaurant Week (BRW) Denver, Allen and others hope that will lead to more locals lending their attention and support to Black-owned culinary businesses as they do some of those higher-end restaurants.

The second annual BRW will run March 15 to 24. 

Catfish and ribs ready for eating at Mississippi Boy Catfish & Ribs in Holly Square. March 13, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

“BRW is solely guided by business owners and operators,” said Falayn Ferrell, Black Restaurant Week LLC’s Operations Managing Partner. “They are in the trenches every day and experience the ebbs and flows of running a business during one of the most difficult periods in U.S. history.” 

A little over 50% of independent restaurant owners and operators surveys reported lower profits in 2023 compared to the prior year, according to the James Beard Foundation’s 2023 Annual Industry Report.

Mississippi Boy Catfish & Ribs in Holly Square. March 13, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Founder of BRW Warren Luckett started the one-city food experience in Houston back in 2016, with the intention of providing complimentary marketing and PR services for businesses as well as, “educate consumers on the abundance of cultural cuisines within their neighborhood and share the disparities faced by minority-owned businesses.” 

“From being overlooked for revitalization funds to inflation, most Black-owned culinary businesses cannot afford advertisements/PR/marketing to build awareness and attract consumers,” Luckett shared in a statement. “That’s why we proudly do this for free – it’s peer-to-peer support for 10 days within each market and for the past nine years.” 

TK’s Surf & Turf Kitchen owner TK Kanwai and his mom, Ms. Tina, in their Kennedy restaurant. March 13, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

This is what some of Denver’s business owners say BRW means to them:

Allen believes the impact of BRW is in bringing mainstream attention to Black restaurant owners and businesses. 

“North Park Hill, from a restaurant standpoint, it’s a bit underserved,” Allen said. “There’s approximately two restaurants that are non-chain in this area.” 

Mississippi Boy Catfish & Ribs in Holly Square. March 13, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Amassing a long line of hungry supporters at events like last year’s Taste of the South festival, Allen said all of their beloved food is homemade and prepped with in-house seasonings, meaning they rarely, if ever need to refill the salt and pepper shakers on the tables of their restaurant. 

Equipped with two outdoor seating decks, live entertainment and a baby grand piano, coupled with the scent of fried catfish, hot links, baby back ribs, Mississippi Boy certainly stands out among Denver restaurants.

“Every restaurant has its own fingerprint,” Allen said. “The five star restaurants that are in North Cherry Creek, they have their place but we have a special place.” 

Lamb alfredo on a table at TK’s Surf & Turf Kitchen in Kennedy. March 13, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Another one of those special places is Southeast Denver seafood restaurant TK’s Surf and Turf Kitchen. Tyler “Chef TK” Kanwai opened the spot in 2020 and curated his restaurant’s menu around his 100% butter “secret sauce” that is doused all over crab clusters, shrimp, lobster tail and more. 

“I’m pretty much living out [my father’s] dream,” said Kanwai. “My actual restaurant was something I started out of my house.” 

A bobblehead of TK Kanwai, from the logo of his TK’s Surf & Turf Kitchen in Kennedy. March 13, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

TK’s Surf and Turf Kitchen was part of the inaugural BRW lineup in Denver. It picked up Tik Tok virality in 2021 and helped raise awareness to local Black-owned restaurants. 

“As Denver natives we’re definitely happy to serve and feed our community,” Kanwai said. “There’s nothing like bringing people together over food. Regardless of race, color, creed, everyone gets hungry.” 

Here is the list of participating Denver restaurants to check out during the week: 

Little Bodega 

Location: 613 22nd St. 

Cuisine: American 

Smokin’ Bones BBQ 

Location: 3600 E. 40th Ave. 

Cuisine: Barbecue 

TK’s Surf and Turf Kitchen 

Location: 10890 E. Dartmouth Ave. 

Cuisine: Seafood

Walia Creamery

Location: 1131 Syracuse St. 

Cuisine: Ice Cream 

Tobys New Orleans Poboys

Location: Food Truck

Cuisine: Creole & Cajun 

TeaLee’s Tea House & Bookstore 

Location: 611 22nd St. 

Cuisine: Tea & Coffee Cafe 

Mattie’s Soul Food Bar and Lounge 

Location: 1490 Eudora St. 

Cuisine: Soul Food 

MyKings IceCream 

Location: 2851 Colorado Blvd. 

Cuisine: Bakery & Dessert 

Sweet Sweetz Ice Cream & Desserts

Location: 2325 E. 28th Ave. 

Cuisine: Bakery & Dessert

Tastebud Bullies

Location: 4780 E. Evans Ave., Parking Lot 

Cuisine: Creole & Cajun 

Agave Shore 

Location: 2736 Welton St. 

Cuisine: Latin

Mississippi Boy Catfish & Ribs 

Location: 5544 E. 33rd Ave. 

Cuisine: Barbecue, Creole, Soul

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