It’s February, so you know what that means – Black History Month! While every month is a great month to celebrate Black history, culture, and community, we wanted to take this time to highlight successful Black entrepreneurs right here in our hometown. So, in honor of Black History Month, we asked our colleagues to submit some of their favorite Black-owned businesses here in New Orleans! Whether it be through food, art and literature, or fashion, these Black business owners have brought their passions and skills to life- please enjoy!
Special thanks to Bailey Gabrish for compiling everyone’s ideas and writing most of this blog!
Fashion and Style
- Nolabraider (from Tysha): Founded by Amber Ward, Nolabraider is the perfect place to go for twists, boxbraids, fauxlocs, and more. Ward started the salon back in 2012 out of her home giving women a place, not only to get their hair done, but also to embrace their natural hair. She also wanted to provide a place for professional women and included business hours before and after the traditional work day to accommodate more clients. The salon now has 3 locations with over 10 entrepreneurs who have years of experience in protective styles!
- West London Btq (from Becky): What began as a single rolling rack in the home of founder/owner Mariah Walton Bencik soon became a thriving boutique located on Magazine Street, one of New Orleans’ most popular retail streets. West London Btq brings European style to American culture and is described as “feminine, romantic, and dramatic.” Not only has the boutique been featured in The New York Times, New Orleans Magazine, and Southern Living Magazine, but owner Bencik has also earned herself a spot on the A-List of Adore Magazine’s Top 25 Most Influential New Orleanians!
- Dooky Chase’s Restaurant: What is now an upscale Creole restaurant located in the oldest African American neighborhood in the country, was once a sandwich shop and lottery ticket outlet in 1939. Originally founded by Emily and Dooky Chase, Sr., Dooky Chase’s Restaurant historically served as a meeting space for entertainment, culture, and civil and economic rights discussions for the African-American community in New Orleans. The late owner Leah Chase, also known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine, transformed the shop into one of the first African-American fine dining restaurants in the country and, by showcasing African-American art throughout the establishment, the first art gallery for Black artists in New Orleans. The restaurant remains family owned and operated today and has served a number of influential people from Beyoncé to Barack Obama. (Fun Fact: Chef Leah Chase served as the inspiration for Princess Tiana from Disney’s Princess and the Frog!) Leah’s grandson, Dook Chase, was recently named the restaurant partner for Tulane’s new Thirteen15 building!
- Beaucoup Eats (from Justin): With a motto like “Everyone deserves good food,” how can you go wrong with Beaucoup Eats? Founded in 2019 by Chef Lakesha Reed, Phillip Hare and Veteran Corie Reed, Beaucoup Eats serves Creole Comfort Cuisine with a modern healthier twist. The restaurant also features vegetarian and vegan options as well as dishes made with their own homegrown veggies! As Justin says- they only serve good food!
- Fritai: Chef Charly Pierre grew up in Cambridge, MA but moved to New Orleans in 2015 after cutting his teeth at some of Boston’s best restaurants. He continued working as a chef here in New Orleans before deciding to open up his own business with co-founded Minerva Cherches. They opened the original Fritai at St. Roch Market and were met with great success- so much so that they relocated to their own restaurant on Basin Street! Parents, the cocktails are also delicious!
- Queen Trini Lisa (from Crissy and Zac): Lisa Nelson (AKA Queen Trini Lisa) has won awards for her Jerk chicken. She has brought her Trinibagonian Island soul food to New Orleans! She is inspired by African, East Indian, and Asian cultures and works to meld the spices and ingredients into amazing food. Zac recommends the doubles!
- We Dat’s (from Owen): Owen also covered We Dat’s in last year’s Black History Month TikTok video, but he doesn’t care. We Dat’s started as a food truck and has blossomed into a thriving business with multiple locations and a line of seasonings and mixes. The owner, Greg Tillery, was inspired by Food Truck Wars and put in the hard work to serve great food while building a brand. His hard work has paid off!
History and Literature
- Baldwin & Co. (from Stuart): Born and raised in New Orleans, founder/owner DJ Johnson grew up just a few blocks away from where Baldwin and Co. now stands. Throughout his childhood, Johnson read the works of many influential African-American writers, one of his favorites being James Baldwin, who would later become the inspiration for the bookstore’s name. Serving as a space for adults and children from the community, Baldwin & Co. features a wide selection of books, events with local and visiting authors, and a coffee shop all in one!
- Community Book Center (from Bailey): Founded by Vera Warren-Williams, Community Book Center is “more than a bookstore,” and acts as an educational home featuring African-centered books, art, gifts and more. The space is also available to schools, churches, and other community organizations for performances, pop-ups, book fairs, and art galleries. In 2016, Tulane’s Small Center for Collaborative Design paired with Community Book Center to renovate the space and make it more accessible to educators, students, and families in the neighborhood.
- Ice Cream 504: Named the High Priest of Ice Cream, Michael Southall opened Ice Cream 504 in 2011. Inspired by childhood memories of making fresh ice cream on his Aunt Ruby’s porch during the hot New Orleans’ summers, Southall recreates his own experiences of fresh, natural ice cream. At Ice Cream 504, ice cream is made from fresh fruits, sometimes homegrown, with an old-fashioned churn, just like Aunt Ruby used to make it. Recently, Ice Cream 504 reopened at a new location within walking distance of Tulane’s campus!
- Botanicals NOLA (from Angel): If you’re looking for a healthier treat, Botanicals NOLA is just the place for you! Owner Zoe’s goal is to heal the community mainly through organic juices and smoothies. Zoe wanted to share the healing power of fresh fruits and veggies to those in the New Orleans community after switching to a plant-based diet himself. The shop even features smoothies and gels made with authentic wildcrafted sea moss from the Eastern Caribbean Island of St. Lucia!