National Caribbean American Restaurant Week to launch Sunday

Jamaican comedian Oliver Samuels.

The Jamaica, Queens-based Caribbean American Restaurant Association (CARA) said on Wednesday that the first ever in-person National Caribbean American Restaurant Week will be launched on Sunday.

CARA said in a statement that the historical event will take place from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm at Suede Restaurant in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.

The group said that it has also organized participating restaurants in over 17 states and 30 cities across the US.

CARA said National Caribbean American Restaurant Week will feature “exceptional Caribbean foods, top-shelf mixtures of Caribbean drinks, and a unique experience for our important invited guests and patrons alike.

“This celebration will kick start extended Restaurant Week, which is helping as many restaurants as possible to recover and restore the financial health of their business due to the devastating losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said. “The slogan ‘Taste the Culture, Savor the Vibes’ is indicative of the exceptional cultural experience that awaits patrons.”

CARA said one of the objectives of the National Caribbean American Restaurant Week is to help generate local support for restaurants impacted by the pandemic in New York City and around the country.

“CARA accomplishes this through aggressive local marketing and promotions that will drive old and new patrons to participate in this event,” the statement said.

Sunday’s launch will be hosted by Oliver Samuels, the legendary Jamaican actor, performer, comedian, director and producer, who recently celebrated his 50th year in cultural entertainment.

“I am proud of my Caribbean heritage and. along with thousands of New Yorkers, I am thrilled to support the first-ever National Caribbean American Restaurant Week,” said New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray, who traces her roots to Barbados and St. Lucia.

“Caribbean restaurants are the heart and soul of neighborhoods across New York City and across the nation,” she added. “They bring the warmth of a culture that celebrates family and community with tantalizing traditional dishes and the familiar flavors of home.

“Like so many other small businesses — especially in communities of color — our Caribbean restaurants were devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” McCray continued. “Now, as we focus on a fair, inclusive recovery, it is up to all of us to support these businesses as they recover.”

Caribbean American Congresswoman, Yvette D. Clarke said that “not only will there be a myriad of delicious food to choose from, but this is also an opportunity to highlight small Caribbean-owned businesses and support their economic recovery from the devastating impacts of COVID-19.

“As a Jamaican-American woman, I take great pride in my heritage and understand the illustrious legacy of how Black and Caribbean culture contributed and continues to contribute to this country’s culinary identity,” said Clarke, representative for the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, whose parents hail from Jamaica.

“Our people took scraps and the undesired, and created delicacies. We created art from ugly and cultivated nourishment from deprivation. That is why weeks like this are so important,” she continued. “We must not only support our Caribbean restaurants but also preserve the rich cultural legacy that is our food. Happy Caribbean American Heritage Month, and Happy Caribbean Restaurant Week. Be sure to save me a plate!”

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