So many have taken to our streets to rally behind our black communities over the past few weeks, and now we’ve come to an important annual holiday that holds special significance during these times: Juneteenth. It commemorates the emancipation of the last remaining enslaved African Americans in the Confederacy and has been observed since the late 1800s.
Following the nationwide protests over police brutality and the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many others, this holiday – meant to celebrate freedoms – will resonate in new and important ways this year. We should all take some time on Friday, throughout the weekend and beyond, to find ways to honor the black community and their contributions to the history and culture of the area we love.
Throughout history, important milestones or commemorations have centered around food. Purchasing from our black-owned food businesses is just one small but meaningful way to honor this holiday. Grab a meal, a dessert, a drink with friends and family, and discuss and reflect on what Juneteenth means in these times.
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The 63-year-old Durham staple located in the two-story brick building on Fayetteville Street has solidified its reputation for perfectly seasoned and tender chicken. The Southern gem claims itself the longest-running black-owned restaurant in Durham.
Even during this difficult time through the pandemic, the restaurant still finds ways to give back. The Chicken Hut has offered free meals for kids 18 and younger on weekdays, noon-2pm, since April. Check out its Instagram for updates.
To support this family-owned business that’s consistently paying it forward, the community can do the same. “We are accepting credit cards now, and we’re doing take out,” Chicken Hut told Durham Magazine. “We would like to continue our legacy for another 60-plus years. And we thank the community for their continued dedication and support!”
The food truck, inspired by founder Rhonda Jones’ love of rum cake (it’s even in the name of the website!), is a small Durham treasure for traditional desserts and homemade baked goods.
“Since the beginning of this pandemic, I have been looking for the silver lining,” Rhonda says. “It has given me time for self-reflection and a new hobby, macro photography. … As we navigate through this difficult time, I pray each of us takes time for introspection; hoping we grow from this experience.”
At this time, Chez Moi offers contactless, complimentary delivery of whole cakes to homes or offices within Durham, along with nationwide shipping. Deliveries are made Tuesday-Friday 2:30-4:30pm. The signature Brown Sugar Vanilla Rum Cake and Lemon Cake by the slice can be found at Cocoa Cinnamon (Geer Street and Hillsborough Road locations) and Namu on U.S. 15-501.
“Hopefully, we will get back to regular food trucking, but for now, we will continue to serve you in the safest ways possible,” Rhonda says. “The dessert food truck items will become available for home and office delivery within Durham soon. [To] be the first to know, please use the ‘contact us now’ form on the website to send your email address.”
To most born-and-bred Chapel Hillians, Mama Dip’s tastes like home. But nostalgia aside, there is a reason the comfort food restaurant has remained a mainstay over the past 40-plus years: It is darn good. Although Mildred Council, the Chapel Hill culinary matriarch known as Mama Dip, died in 2018, she’s left a legacy that extends well beyond her recipes – the restaurant is known for its traditional Southern cooking and its owners’ charm as well as service to the community.
Mildred’s daughter Neecy Council and granddaughter Tonya Council continue to run Mama Dip’s in addition to their own personal foodie ventures. Neecy makes and sells Sweet Neecy all-natural cake mixes – in original, chocolate and spice. She also offers a red velvet mix, a novelty flavor added in 2014. She uses beet powder to achieve its velvety brown hue. Tonya, a Chapel Hill High School grad, opened Tonya’s Cookies on Rosemary Street in early 2017. “I started working in the restaurant when I was 15 because my grandmother made it look so easy, but I soon found out it was a lot of work,” Tonya told Chapel Hill Magazine that year.
As far as what they’re doing now? Neecy says, “We are moving forward in the second phase; rehired most of our staff and returned to our full menu. Sales have not risen to a satisfactory level yet, but they are improving week by week. Our greatest concern was our staff and making sure they had income.”
The restaurant reopened for outdoor dining Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-7pm, and is still available for curbside pickup.
“We appreciate all of the support we have received from our community leaders and customers,” Neecy says. “Mama Dip taught us in words and by her actions; tough times don’t last always. ‘Don’t worry about it,’ she would say. We have those words with us during these COVID-19 challenges.”
More local spots to support:
Backyard BBQ Pit
Bespoke Bakery & Dessert Bar
Big C Waffles
Blend of Soul
Dame’s Chicken & Waffles
Indulge Catering – launched a live dinner party/cooking series called “Indulge @ Home,” hosted by the company’s owners and chefs, Queen Precious-Jewel Earth Zabriskie and Jacqueline “Jay” White. The virtual events take place every Sunday at 6 p.m. on Facebook and Instagram.
Let’s Eat HomeStyle
Lula and Sadie’s
Mike D’s BBQ
Nolia Family + Coffee
Nzinga’s Breakfast Cafe
The Palace International
Pork in the Road
Roy’s Kountry Kitchen
Saltbox Seafood Joint
Sho Nuff Seafood
Skewers Bar & Grill
Sophisticated Catering and Event Planning
Soul Fresh Spring Rolls
Soul Good Vegan Cafe
Southern Lady Sweets
Tater Bread Cafe
True Flavors Diner/Debbie Lou’s Biscuits
Vegan Flava Cafe
Find more black-owned businesses on this blog from our friends at Discover Durham.