Discover the wealth of Black-owned businesses that thrive in Chicago and have experience working with meeting and event planners. Whether it’s a venue, restaurant, caterer, or specialty service, events in Chicago run smoother with their skilled help. Check out some of the city’s leading Black-owned businesses and support diverse vendors during your next Chicago meeting or event.
The Quarry Event Center, a South Shore community center, is owned by Yvette Moyo’s Real Men Charities nonprofit. Two rooms — one that accommodates 150 people and the other with a capacity for 85 — are offered for meetings or events. ETC Wellness Café and Imani Original Pies are the in-house catering options, or a commercial kitchen is available for use. Other amenities include parking, a DJ, security, and A/V equipment. The nonprofit’s mission is to focus on health and wellness, in addition to preserving Afro American arts, culture, and heritage. (Check on current venue availability.)
The impressive works of local and international artists who specialize in the African diaspora make for a vibrant event backdrop at Gallery Guichard in Bronzeville, one of the country’s largest African American art districts. The fine art exhibits feature mediums that include painting, sculpture, furniture, and more. The space can be rented for events of up to 299 people reception style or 170 seated guests. The goal of owners Andre Guichard, Frances Guichard, and Stephen Mitchell is to expose people to multicultural artists and their artwork. If you love what you see, buy a piece for one of your VIPs.
The Little Black Pearl cultural arts center offers diverse youth education programs and events that feature live poetry, musical performances, and artist exhibits. Spaces at the Bronzeville nonprofit are available to rent for corporate and business events. The elegant 2,747-square-foot Atrium can accommodate 300 people reception style or 220 seated. Little Black Pearl memberships include access to the C47 Work and Experiment Lounge, a coworking and studio space designed to inspire collaboration.
Wine, food, music, and art make Bronzeville Winery a lively place to host private dinners and cocktail parties. The space was designed to encourage socializing and networking. The wine list includes several women-, minority-, and African American-owned labels, including Brown Estate, Michael Lavelle, and Parés Balta. Bronzeville Winery nurtures produce innovation and urban agriculture in its partnership with the local Olive-Harvey College Grow Operation. Taste the locally grown results in menu items such as whole-leaf Caeser salad and wild mushroom pappardelle.
Enjoy refined Southern hospitality at Virtue Restaurant & Bar in Hyde Park. Led by two James Beard Award winners — chef/owner Erick Williams and chef de cuisine Damarr Brown — Virtue offers elevated versions of traditional Southern recipes. Chicken liver mousse with bacon and pomegranate, short ribs with creamed spinach, and sides like collard greens and buttered grits are delectable menu offerings. Options for private dining and meetings include a seated dinner for 70 people, a standing reception for up to 150, or a standing reception in the bar for 70 guests.
Lexington Betty Smokehouse in Pullman, helmed by pitmaster Dominique Leach and her wife, Tanisha Griffin Leach, is known for cooking up some of the best barbecue in Chicago. In fact, chef Leach recently won Food Network’s BBQ Brawl and was named Master of ‘Cue. Pick a combination of meats like smoked chicken, pulled pork, juicy brisket, and Waygu steak hot dogs. Complete your menu with soulful sides like collard greens, gouda mac ’n’ cheese, and candy yams. The restaurant’s event space can accommodate up to 100 people. Private catering options include Betty Boxes and the Betty Food Truck, which can roll right up to your event.
At Luella’s Southern Kitchen in Lincoln Square, chef/owner Darnell Reed’s cuisine reflects recipes created by his great-grandmother, who came to Chicago in the 1940s from Mississippi. Known for its double-brined fried chicken, Luella’s pairs the bird with waffles or smoked honey and collard greens. Other entree choices include Nashville hot chicken, salmon cakes, and baked shrimp with andouille mac ’n’ cheese. The Southern menu also features traditional sides like beignets, buttermilk biscuits, cheese grits, and skillet cornbread. Catering services are offered.
Book your event with Two Sisters Catering at its Chicago Avenue restaurant, or arrange for a customized meal or boxed lunches to be delivered to your location. The restaurant features chef/owner Veah Larde’s signature wraps, such as the turkey club and jerk chicken, as well as salads and desserts. She also makes lighter versions of Southern favorites, including homemade buttermilk cornbread, ground turkey meatloaf, and herb-baked chicken. For dessert, don’t skip the Louisiana crunch cake, a family recipe topped with evaporated milk frosting, coconut flakes, and chopped pecans.
Kikwetu Kenya Coffee Company offers flavorful, ethically sourced specialty coffee, in addition to sweet treats. The company’s catering services include supplying hot or cold brew coffees and an assortment of pastries, such as cardamom or coconut mandazi, a Kenyan-style doughnut. Catering packages with an elevated presentation, which can include the addition of a Kikwetu server, are available.
Cheerful baked goods are the hallmark of Sugar Bliss, an award-winning bakery founded by CEO Teresa Ging. Gift attendees with boxes of perfect French macarons in pastel colors and creative flavors. Also available are boxes of cupcakes by the dozen — including gluten-free and vegan options — topped with Ging’s Sugar Bliss bloom made from rich frosting. Sugar Bliss also offers catering, with made-from-scratch treats that include breakfast pastries, cake pops, brownies, and cookies. Or arrange to have the Sugar Bliss Sweets Cart make an appearance at your event.
If you need event maps, booth signs, product packaging, promotional materials, or branded apparel, ef Design Group creates impactful visuals for both small and large events. The Black-owned design and printing agency helps keep attendees informed at trade shows, meetings, and conferences. Owner Walter Freeman has also helped other minority business entrepreneurs with product and brand development.
GCJ Hospitality Resources can help with staffing needs for your Chicago event, including trade shows, brand activations, live experiences, and conventions. GCJ can provide everything from hospitality staff that includes bartenders, chefs, and servers to convention support services, such as service desk management, registration professionals, and booth models. The company has delivered hospitality staffing solutions for more than 10 years.
Immerse attendees in Chicago’s fascinating culture and history during a private tour with local historian Shermann “Dilla” Thomas, who operates Chicago Mahogany Tours. During two-hour tours in neighborhoods like Bronzeville, Pullman, and Englewood, Thomas shares the cultural importance of these diverse communities. His popular 60-second TikTok videos about Chicago history have been viewed over 20 million times. Thomas was named Choose Chicago’s 2022 Chicago Tourism Ambassador of the Year.
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Choose Chicago partners include many women- and minority-owned businesses who provide valuable services for meeting and event planners. Contact us for vendor referrals for private events, cultural heritage tours, dining, catering, custom gifts, printing, and more.