In its fourth year, Latin Restaurant Weeks is back and bigger than ever with a showcase of around 70 Latin-owned culinary businesses in the Houston area.
The two-week flavor tour, of sorts, runs through Thursday, June 30, highlighting the breadth of Latin American cuisine in the city, which spans from Peruvian and El Salvadorian to Mexican.
The hope, according to co-founder Karinn Andréa Luckett, is to expose citizens and visitors to the region’s bold Latin flavors, while also amplifying the small businesses — chefs, caterers, bartenders, bakeries, coffee shops, and food trucks, included — that make up the vibrant culinary scene.
“Latin America is so vast. There’s an array of culture and cuisines,” Luckett says. And “I’m super excited about the diversity within the diversity, and helping restaurants recover [from the effects of COVID-19] while going back to our roots.”
Participating culinary businesses include La Fisheria, Chivos, Gloria’s Latin Cuisine, Las Brasas Charcoal Chicken, Cochinita & Co., La Pupusa Loka, 5411 Empanadas, Maize, and coffee shops like Tenfold Coffee Company, Oso Coffee Co., and Segundo Coffee Lab. Each will highlight its menus and/or specific dishes, ranging from $3 to $45, Luckett says.
Luckett, a former food blogger who has worked in the restaurant industry as a bartender and a server, says she was inspired to launch the restaurant week after seeing that no platform existed for Latin-owned businesses in Houston, despite more than 40 percent of the population identifying as Hispanic or Latino. After working in social media marketing in the restaurant industry, she also knew firsthand how many small business owners lacked the resources to invest in the tools needed to get more exposure.
“My passion has always been helping small businesses, and I wanted to help the lesser-known or overlooked spots, but also highlight the fine-dining spots,” says Luckett, who now works for Equifax, a data and analytics company.
With Black Restaurant Week, a platform of Black-owned culinary businesses, already underway, Luckett wanted to know how she could do the same for the Latin community. In 2017, she met with Black Restaurant Week co-founder and her now-husband, Warren Luckett, to devise a plan to create a Latin rendition. Two years later, the pair launched Latin Restaurant Weeks, in collaboration with just 40 Latin American restaurants.
Luckett says LRW works much like a marketing vehicle for the various restaurants, allowing them to sign up for free to advertise their services. Paid registration offers restaurants an added boost of support with fliers, posters, and added traffic.
Luckett says the response was rewarding. Most participating restaurants have noted an uptick of up to 20 percent in foot traffic and more engagement on social media, according to a release, and now LRW can be found in Atlanta, Chicago, and Miami.