February 14, 2023 Featured Spotlight

How Technology Can Help Black-Owned Restaurants Thrive

Black-owned restaurants provide a visible representation of the entrepreneurial spirit and success of African American communities. They serve as a source of inspiration and encouragement for aspiring black business owners and entrepreneurs. At the Digital Restaurant Association (DRA), we believe in the power of the culinary arts and local restaurants to bring people and our communities together. Black History Month is a great time to recognize the important role black-owned restaurants play in our cultural fabric and how technology can help. According to the National Restaurant Association, there were approximately 375,000 black-owned restaurants in the United States in 2020, representing 8% of all restaurants in the country. In 2020, black-owned restaurants in the United States generated approximately $25 billion in sales. And between 2007 and 2012, the number of black-owned restaurants in the United States grew by nearly 60%, outpacing the growth of all restaurants in the country during the same period.

But despite their growth and success, black-owned restaurants face many challenges, including access to capital, limited exposure and visibility, and high competition. Fortunately technology can help. In fact, 95% of all restaurateurs agree that restaurant technology improves their business efficiency. Below are some of the most significant challenges that black-owned restaurants face in starting and growing their businesses, and how technology solutions can help:

Lack of access to capital and funding – One of the biggest challenges faced by black-owned restaurants is access to capital. Many black entrepreneurs struggle to secure loans and other forms of financing to start and grow their businesses, making it difficult to compete with larger, better-established restaurants. Technology can provide new financing options, such as crowdfunding and online lending, which can help black restaurateurs access the funding they need to start or grow their businesses.

Limited visibility and marketing opportunities –  Black-owned restaurants often struggle to gain exposure and visibility, both within their local communities and beyond. This can make it difficult to attract new customers and grow their businesses. Technology can help black-owned restaurants reach a wider audience through digital marketing and social media, as well as online ordering and delivery platforms.

Competition with established chains – The food industry is highly competitive, with thousands of restaurants vying for customers. Black-owned restaurants face particularly high competition, as they often operate in crowded markets and struggle to gain visibility and exposure. Technology can help level the playing field by giving small and independent restaurants access to the same tools and resources as larger chains, including customer management, loyalty and retention, and order tracking systems.

Disproportionate barriers to entry – Black-owned restaurants also play an important role in supporting local economies. They create jobs, generate tax revenue, and provide opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Technology can help reduce some of the barriers to entry for black restaurateurs, such as the high cost of real estate, by enabling them to start or grow their businesses through delivery-only or virtual kitchens.

Bias in the traditional food industry – Technology can help mitigate the impact of bias in the food industry by providing black restaurateurs with data-driven insights and market analysis, as well as access to diverse networks and communities.

Despite the challenges they face, black-owned restaurants play a critical role in communities across the United States. They serve as important cultural and social hubs, offering a sense of community, comfort, and belonging for customers. By leveraging technology, black restaurateurs can overcome many of these challenges and succeed in a highly competitive industry. Additionally, technology can help create new opportunities for black-owned restaurants to innovate and differentiate themselves in the market.