QuaSheba Jones-Callicutt scoops a cool treat for a patron at Scoops Parlor, in this photo from 2016 Memphis Black Restaurant Week. “People have been coming from Cordova and Bartlett to see us,” she said. “It makes us feel special to have that support from our community.” Scoops is now in its third year participating in MBRW. (Photo: Lee Eric Smith)

It’s that time of year again! A local foodie’s paradise week and delightful, new dining experiences for the rest of us.

Memphis Black Restaurant Week (MBRW) 2018 started Monday, March 5 and runs through Sunday, March 11. And locals “foodies” get the opportunity to celebrate one of the city’s two legendary claims to fame—good music and good food.

Now in its third year, MBRW promotes eateries owned and operated by African Americans. Lauded not only for the vibrant spirit of diversity they lend to food tourism in West Tennessee, these establishments also help create jobs and boost the economies of their surrounding communities.

MBRW is the brainchild of Atlanta-born Cynthia Daniels, an entrepreneur who came to Memphis and became spellbound by the is culture.

“I came to Memphis and fell in love with the city,” said Daniels. “I moved here from Atlanta because I saw so much opportunity. Young people would complain about nothing really happening, but I look at things differently. If there is nothing to do, then there are so many opportunities to create.”

This year, there are 12 featured restaurants, representing a broad assortment of culinary fare — from vegan cuisine to fine dining, and everything in between. These impressive enterprises are almost as intriguing as the back stories.

Take Two Vegan Sistas, for instance. Dr. Gretta King and her real, biological sister, Belinda King, opened across for the Highway Patrol station at 6343 Summer Avenue. Dr. King has a Ph.D in chemistry and teaches part-time. She and Belinda have created more than 100 food items: burgers, pasta, Southern dishes.

“You’ll never miss the meat,” says Dr. King.

They cater and deliver — perfect for those who have toyed with the idea of giving up meat and meat products.

Then there’s Scoops Parlor, at 106 G.E. Patterson Ave. Founded by Qua Sheba and Terrance Callicutt, this ice cream paradise sits on the corner of Patterson at Main Street, across from the Amtrak Train Station. She is a speech therapist, and husband, Terrance, is a former firefighter-turned-paramedic, studying to become a nurse.

This is not your typical, run-of-the-mill ice cream shop. Create-your-own dessert crepes, gelato, and savory (meat and veggie) crepes will fill the bill for an unforgettable lunch or snack break.

The Office @Uptown at 594 N. 2nd Street is an oasis on “the other end” of 2nd Street. Designed to accommodate downtown employees, it opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Owned by the husband-wife team of Valerie Peavy and Jeff Harrison, regales patrons with breakfast croissant combinations and sandwich specials for lunch. It’s a recipe for The Office’s success that has brought them to their upcoming fifth anniversary on April 1.

Chef Tam’s Underground Café, is a respite for midtowners at 2299 Young Avenue. It opens on a swing shift – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch, and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. for dinner, Tuesday through Saturday.

The week is a boost for Chef Aryen-Moor Alston. Perhaps best known for “Sweet Potato Baby,” her catering company and appearances on TV cooking shows, Moore-Alston is all in on her new restaurant, “G. Alston,” at 8556 Macon Road in Cordova.

You could say that Moore-Alston, 35, is a dreamer from age five. Her mother, Karen Alston, was a great beauty who could not cook when she married Aryen’s father, Gary. He did all the cooking.

Little Aryen would stand on a chair to help “Daddy” cook. She watched and learned, watched and learned, and was cooking whole meals from the age of 8. Gary Alston passed away when Aryen was 11, but his legacy lives in “Chef Aryen.”

It’s fine dining at its finest. A soft opening was October 27, and Memphis Black Restaurant Week marks the official opening. G. Alston serves lunch from 11 a.m. — 2 p.m., and dinner from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

Rounding out this year’s outstanding roster of culinary favorites are:
• HM Dessert Lounge,1586 Madison Avenue;
• Lenny’s Subs, 12 Cooper Street and 2893 Poplar Avenue;
• Slice of Soul, 1299 Madison Avenue;
• Laura’s Kitchen, 2965 N. Germantown Parkway;
• $.99 Soul Food Express, 414 S. Main Street;
• A&R Barbeque, 1802 Elvis Presley Blvd.
• The Waffle Iron, 144 US-72, Collierville.

For more information on Memphis Black Restaurant Week, visit www.blackrestaurantweek.com.