Race and Economy

In Texas, some Black-owned barbecue restaurants saw an uptick in business during summer protests

Elizabeth Myong Oct 14, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Brothers Juan (left) and Brent Reaves stand in front of their store, Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que in Dallas. Keren Carrión/KERA
Race and Economy

In Texas, some Black-owned barbecue restaurants saw an uptick in business during summer protests

Elizabeth Myong Oct 14, 2020
Brothers Juan (left) and Brent Reaves stand in front of their store, Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que in Dallas. Keren Carrión/KERA
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Small businesses have been struggling during the pandemic, particularly Black-owned businesses. In the last few months, Black owners of barbecue restaurants in North Texas say the pandemic has presented new challenges for their businesses, that have seen a downturn in catering and in-store sales.

But following the protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in early June, some Black business owners said their establishments have seen surges in business. For some, the growth in customers looking for ways to support the Black community was short-lived. But for others, customers have continued to come back, thanks in part to social media.

“I think across the board, the initiative to support Black businesses has helped sustain us through the pandemic,” said Juan Reaves, who co-owns Smokey John’s Bar-B-Que.

This year, he said Smokey John’s saw its biggest Juneteenth sales — up 400% compared to last year. Still, Reaves says the cancellation of the State Fair of Texas was a “huge blow.” He said it usually brings in a third of his restaurant’s annual revenue.

“There’s no way we can make all that up,” Reaves said.

More than 40% of Black-owned businesses in Texas say they could close because of the pandemic, according to a preliminary statewide survey by the Texas Association for African American Chambers of Commerce.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

Are people still waiting for unemployment payments?

Yes. There is no way to know exactly how many people have been waiting for months and are still not getting unemployment, because states do not have a good system in place for tracking that kind of data, according to Andrew Stettner of The Century Foundation. But by his own calculations, only about 60% of people who have applied for benefits are currently receiving them. That means there are millions still waiting. Read more here on what they are doing about it.

What’s going to happen to retailers, especially with the holiday shopping season approaching?

A report out Tuesday from the accounting consultancy BDO USA said 29 big retailers filed for bankruptcy protection through August. And if bankruptcies continue at that pace, the number could rival the bankruptcies of 2010, after the Great Recession. For retailers, the last three months of this year will be even more critical than usual for their survival as they look for some hope around the holidays.

Read More

Collapse

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.