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Louisville entrepreneurs reflect on fourth annual 502 Black Eats Week

A dozen vanilla and chocolate frosted cupcakes
Courtesy of Samantha Sanders
More than 20 Louisville-area businesses, including Cain't Wait Cupcakes, took part in 502 Black Eats Week this year.

502 Black Eats Week spotlights local Black entrepreneurs, who offer discounts and deals during the week. More than 20 businesses took part this year from Oct. 1–7.

Tiandra Robinson launched the initiative in 2020, two years after starting a similar campaign called 502 Black Business Week.

As a marketing consultant for small businesses, she said her work with Black entrepreneurs showed how important quality marketing is for them.

“It's all about bringing exposure to Black-owned businesses, so people know that these businesses can exist, so that they can go out and support them,” Robinson said.

But 502 Black Eats Week was also created as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Black-owned businesses, Robinson said.

Prospective Black entrepreneurs also face challenges in starting and maintaining businesses, such as having lower median family net worth.

Louisville officials say less than 3% of local businesses are Black-owned, while about 22% of residents are Black.

“We might not ever close the racial wealth gap, but things like this help move the needle,” Robinson said.

Samantha Sanders joined 502 Black Eats Week this year as the owner of Cain’t Wait Cupcakes.

She said she currently delivers her cupcakes, ranging from red velvet to her specialty bourbon flavor, and eventually wants to open up a food truck.

Sanders said while there weren’t new inquiries for her business during the promotional week, she thinks the initiative is valuable for getting the word out.

“The more you see somebody's name out there, and the more that you are out there, you kinda be like, ‘Okay, you know, I've seen this person once or twice, so I’ma give them a try,” she said.

Fruit salad in watermelon halves
Shanica Sublett joined 502 Black Eats Week this year with her new business, Tandy's Treats & Eats.

Shanica Sublett owns Tandy’s Treats & Eats, which she started in February and added to 502 Black Eats Week.

She delivers meals and desserts and said the initiative helped her attract new customers and discover new businesses. Eventually, she wants to operate her business full-time at a physical restaurant.

“I've been cooking my whole life. I just recently started to explore out and, you know, just go for it,” Sublett said.

A similar campaign, known as Black Restaurant Week, took part in Louisville and other cities in the Southeast from Sept. 29–Oct. 8.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.

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