MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Ernisha Randolph is the owner of Shuckin & Jivin’ restaurant in Opa-locka featuring down-home southern food and New Orleans style cuisine. Randolph had a booming business since she opened two years ago.

“Pre-pandemic, Shuckin & Jivin’ was doing great just. I had a contract with the Super Bowl. We were at the stadium and we catered the official tailgate for the Super Bowl with about 11,000 people in attendance,” Randolph said.

And then in March, the pandemic hit.

“Business declined tremendously. All of our catering events came to an immediate halt. People canceled events all the way through September,” Randolph explained. “Thankfully some of our customers continue to come and we continue to serve them throughout the pandemic.”

Then, this week happened. Curfews went into place surrounding the protests about the death of George Floyd.

“For some reason, at that point, I stop worrying about profit and I just began to worry about the people and I’m like you know what it doesn’t matter. I’m not posting anything to do with food or my pages know if it matters right now. We need to get justice,” she said.

But surprisingly, the business started booming. More and more people started supporting her restaurants and other minority-owned businesses like Chef Creole in Little Haiti.

“We’ve seen a definite pickup,” said Wilkinson Sejour, the chef, owner, and face of Chef Creole.

That pickup can be attributed to many of the food bloggers and writers who have been hitting up social media and posting articles on where to find them. Miami based Freelance journalist Zachary Fagenson saw the need and listed a bunch of minority-owned restaurants on his Instagram handle @Zachisweird.

“I just felt I had a portion of this knowledge in my head from the work I’ve done covering restaurants in Miami over the years. Given everything that’s going on, I thought it would be a good idea and I felt a sense of obligation as well,” said Fagenson.

It’s working.

“There are just so many allies who have stepped up and they’re like I don’t know what we can do I don’t know what the solution is but whatever I can do I’m going to do.”

“It takes a neighborhood of people to make things work. People coming together from all over, doing what they can to make things better. It’s so encouraging,” said Wilkinson Sejour, owner and chef of Chef Creole.

“It feels really great. To my surprise, it’s not just younger folk when you look at the protests. It’s younger white, people younger Hispanic people and they are fed up,” said Randolph.

“Really, what I hope, is that these people go to some of these restaurants once this week or this month will also go throughout the year next year and make it part of their rotation of eating out,” said Fagenson.

Also, see these social media resources:
Instagram for Zachary Fagenson @zachisweird
Instagram fir Shuckin & Jivin restaurant @weshuckin
Web page for Chef Creole: www.chefcreole.com

Lisa Petrillo

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