BALTIMORE (WJZ)– If you haven’t already tried the dozens of black-owned restaurants in Baltimore City, there’s an incentive with discounts and specials through this weekend.

This year’s Black Restaurant Challenge kicked off with a party at Baltimore’s Visitor’s Center. Tickets and plates went fast. Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford was also in attendance.

“We did sell out of the RSVP tickets. I think it was 1,000 tickets in a half-hour. So it’s been very, very well received, organizer Casey Jenkins said. “We’re excited.”

Jenkins, a “restauranteur” himself, started the initiative last year to garner support for local, black-owned restaurants.

Diners are challenged to eat at two black-owned restaurants per week throughout February. All the eateries are offering discounts.

“We started doing food festivals and farmers markets doing the sticky wings that we made and it just took off,” Kimberly Ellis of Breaking Bread said.

Breaking Bread, located in Pigtown, is one of about a dozen participating restaurants, take-outs, caterers and food trucks. It’s been a source of support for the entrepreneurs.

“It’s a challenge to be a black restaurant. Just in terms of what we have access to in terms of capital, in terms of what people expect,” Ellis said.

This year, the promotion coincides with Black History Month. That message of community is essential at Breaking Bread, which runs several outreach programs.

“Our name wasn’t a mistake in terms of ‘breaking bread.’ It’s about what happens when people sit and break bread with each other,” Ellis added. “When people from different walks of life can sit down and have a conversation.”

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