RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Mobile Soul Sunday kicked off the first day of the Richmond Black Restaurant Experience; a week dedicated to supporting Richmond’s Black-owned restaurants, food trucks and local chefs.

The experience aims to counter economic disparity in minority-owned businesses by helping people engage with the city’s food culture.

Mobile Soul Sunday highlights Black food truck operators and the event was spread across nine historical locations across the city.

Richmond Black Restaurant Experience’s Mobile Soul Sunday locations (Provided by RBRE365)

Saajida Chohan, a partner of the event, said the food truck operators took a hit like most restaurants during the pandemic.

“This year because of COVID, they wanted to still provide that food truck experience with both the community and truck chefs but we wanted to spread it out,” Chohan said. “The restaurant owners, the mobile truck owners, the chefs — they’re really excited that this is happening, almost like a one year anniversary of COVID.”

United States Senator Tim Kaine stopped by the Arthur Ashe Jr. Athletic Center to support the event, and said the COVID relief bill passed in the Senate yesterday will be a big help to the restaurants celebrating this week.

“It’s an exciting day to do it because we just passed the COVID bill in the Senate yesterday, and that bill has $28 billion in grants for restaurants,” Sen. Kaine said. “Restaurants have been hit very hard. There’s a specific targeting of one-fifth of the money for restaurants that are women-owned, minority-owned and veteran-owned.”

Sen. Kaine said keeping the doors open and guests in seats is key to keeping the industry alive.

“Restaurants are the pillar of our community and we have to make sure they survive,” Kaine said.

The Richmond Black Restaurant Experience lasts through March 14 — click here to find other events you can participate in this week.