Restaurant News

Weekend Briefing: Spotlighting Black-Owned Restaurants Across Metro Phoenix

Phil Johnson at Trapp House BBQ.
Phil Johnson at Trapp House BBQ. Chris Malloy
The news this week was both horrendous and hopeful, and not equally so. In addition to peaceful protests, hundreds of arrests, and Governor Doug Ducey's statewide 8 p.m. curfew, Phoenix restaurants also made headlines. Pleas for guides to black-owned restaurants swept social media, resulting in customer spikes for many Valley restaurants, while other eateries and organizations leapt at the opportunity to show their support.

Here’s a look at the ways Arizona restaurants were folded into the news cycle this week.

Downtown Phoenix Bars and Restaurants Grapple With Statewide Curfew

Phil Johnson is the owner and pitmaster of Trapp Haus BBQ, located in the Roosevelt Row Arts District in downtown Phoenix. After contending with the forced closure of his restaurant because of COVID-19 and finally being able to reopen for dine-in on May 11, Johnson has had to shut his doors once again this week because of the statewide curfew imposed by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. We also spoke with Gracie’s Tax Bar owner Grace Perry and co-owner Kell Duncan of The Churchill.

click to enlarge Wren House Brewing Company is starting a new beer overseen by brewer Akil Zakariya. It will be ready in about a month, and all proceeds will go to the NAACP. - LAUREN CUSIMANO
Wren House Brewing Company is starting a new beer overseen by brewer Akil Zakariya. It will be ready in about a month, and all proceeds will go to the NAACP.
Lauren Cusimano

How Phoenix-Area Food and Drink Businesses Are Showing Solidarity

Food-related businesses across Arizona and metro Phoenix employed social media posts, resources highlighting black-owned restaurants, and beer projects to draw attention to the cause of anti-racism. Restaurants closed on Tuesday, June 2. Donations were and are being made. And brewer Akil Zakariya at Wren Wren House Brewing Co. started a new brew yesterday — an unnamed stout — that will be ready in about a month with all proceeds going to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).


click to enlarge Rag's Real Chicken & Waffles in Youngtown, a west Valley restaurant owned and operated by Ken Smith. - LAUREN CUSIMANO
Rag's Real Chicken & Waffles in Youngtown, a west Valley restaurant owned and operated by Ken Smith.
Lauren Cusimano

How to Support Black-Owned Restaurants in Metro Phoenix, According to Three Black Owners

Christian Brantley, who owns downtown Chandler’s West Alley BBQ, says he decided to participate in #BlackoutTuesday — a social media movement intended to amplify black voices — because he believes in the message the nationwide protests are trying to convey. In return, he says, “the Valley came out." Sales surged for black-owned restaurants on Tuesday, but these restaurant owners say there are more ways customers can support their businesses.

click to enlarge the Larder + the Delta near downtown Phoenix is owned and operated by chef Stephen Jones. - LAUREN CUSIMANO
the Larder + the Delta near downtown Phoenix is owned and operated by chef Stephen Jones.
Lauren Cusimano

Where to Find Outstanding Food From Black-Owned Restaurants in Greater Phoenix

The Valley is lucky to have a wide variety of black-owned restaurants offering amazing food in vital spaces. Here are several restaurants in greater Phoenix we recommend for today and well beyond. We have many suggestions. Here are several restaurants in greater Phoenix we recommend for today and well beyond.

click to enlarge James Lewis of JL Smokehouse philosophizing about wood and smoke. - CHRIS MALLOY
James Lewis of JL Smokehouse philosophizing about wood and smoke.
Chris Malloy

Bonus: Meat Supply and Price Changes Jolt Phoenix-Area Barbecue Scene

A few weeks ago, we talked with James Lewis of JL Smokehouse about coronavirus-related meat prices. “Prices have gone up on all of the meats,” says Lewis. “You started seeing it crawling up two or three weeks ago. You started seeing the rib prices going up, and the pork prices as well.” Lewis also describes price gaps. “I’m going to one place and getting a good price, and then I go to another and I see the price to the sky.” See how Lewis and Trapp Haus BBQ’s Phil Johnson are working with high brisket prices.
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Lauren Cusimano is Phoenix New Times' food and drink editor. She is a journalist and food waste writer based in Tempe. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.
Contact: Lauren Cusimano