As young professionals trying to secure the bag, grabbing drinks, coffee, tea, or food in general with people is a huge part of our job (Confession: I prefer tea over coffee most days so simply grabbing drinks has become a catch all phrase for me). I am often asked where I’d like to meet and have to choose a meeting location for a chat. Luckily, Richmond offers enough options that the default does not have to be Starbucks, because God forbid I had to use the bathroom or something before my meeting started. In any case, as an urban planner and someone works really hard to support minority owned businesses, I am intentional about the places I suggest for my meetings. With that in mind, I decided to create a list of 5 cool meetings spaces in Richmond that are either Black or minority owned, offer a cool experience, and where I feel extremely welcomed as a black woman.
1. Urban Hang Suite – Richmond Native, Kelli Lemon, has created a literal gem with this spot. Opening in late 2018, I have legit had almost every meeting at this café. Not only is it warm and welcoming, the food and drinks are awesome (The Lox is one of my favorites), the physical space is one where, as a black woman, I feel reflected and seen. From the art that adorns the walls and the mural of dope women in Richmond to the Vibe magazines covers that plasters the back of the café, Urban Hang Suite is a place that I believe is critical to maintaining the safe space for people of color in the city and a much needed spot in downtown Richmond.
2. Brewers Café – located South of the James River, Brewers Café is owned by Richmond, Virginia Native AJ Brewer. Every time I’ve gone, it’s been super cozy and intimate. The Brewer’s Club is my go to whenever I visit. During the Spring, Summer and Early Fall, Brewer’s Café is the host of Manchester Manifest, which is basically a good ol’ block party with great food, bomb music, and dope vendors. Of course it is open to everyone, but the event is so crucial in creating a space for black folk in the city.
3. Pinq, Inc. – this is Richmond’s new co-working space. Not only is it for women, it is owned by a black woman. I had the opportunity to meet Brittany Garth recently and get a tour of the space. It’s super cute, located in a convenient part of the city, and offers reasonable rates for entrepreneurs looking for a space to set up shop.
4. Spoonbread Bistro – let me tell you. If you ever ask me to link up over dinner, I am probably going to recommend this spot. It never, ever disappoints. The Southern meets European style cuisine is absolutely amazing. My must haves are the collard green and pork eggrolls, the black molasses duck, and the bread pudding for desert. Should you decide to have a dinner meeting here, please know that you may be too busy enjoying your food to listen to what the person across from you is saying. If this does happen, schedule another date and check out one of the other spots on this list.
5. Saadia’s Juicebox – Last but not least, this gem in Jackson Ward is a great spot to check out if you want a refreshing juice or acai bowl. The owner, Saadia Yasmine, grew up on the border on Afghanistan and Paskistan. She opened the juice bar in 2016 and offers an array of juices, breakfast options, and good vibes. The juice bar is super vibrant and has definitely become a staple in historic Jackson Ward.
Supporting local business is crucial to their sustainability and to stimulating the local economy. It also lets business owners know that we care about the product or service they are bringing to the community. With the rapidly changing demographics in the city, Richmond is fraught with spaces that feel very, very white. Take Scotts Addition, for example. You’d be surprised to learn that amongst the many breweries, there are coffee shops in the neighborhood as well. Recently in a Facebook post, activist Duron Chavis wrote about his experience in Scotts Addition. In it, he describes his experience in the space: “In all the cases; there was what I would call - resolute predominant whiteness. As in the owners were white, the staff were white, the patrons were white, they had white people things.”
I don’t know about you, but If I am looking to get to know someone, be it to develop a friendship or to discuss a business opportunity, I want to feel comfortable where I am.
In the future, I encourage you to be thoughtful and intentional about where you are lining up your meetings. If you care about supporting local minority businesses, suggest a location that allows you to do just that. This matters not only because it’s important for us to support these establishments, but at the very least we deserve to connect with people in spaces where we feel as though we belong.
What other black and minority meeting spaces do you all enjoy around the city? Let me know!