Restaurants/Food Service There is a strong demand for Black-owned restaurants and food businesses in Chicago. Soul food, Caribbean cuisine, African cuisine, vegan options, and comfort food are popular concepts. Examples include Brown Sugar Bakery, Majani Soulful Vegan Cuisine, Taste 222, and The SoulFood Lounge.

Retail – Clothing, Accessories, Gift Shops Retail boutiques selling apparel, gifts, accessories, and more present opportunities. Clothing shop Essential Elements and gift shop The Silver Room are examples of successful Black-owned retail establishments.

Arts/Entertainment Venues Arts and entertainment venues like galleries, musical venues, theaters, and experiences allow Black owners to showcase their creative talents. A few notable locations include Black Ensemble Theater, Gallery Guichard, and Eta Creative Arts Foundation.

Professional/ Business Services Professional services ranked as the top industry for Black-owned businesses in Illinois in the state survey. Consulting, marketing, HR, IT, and other specialized services can thrive.  

Cafes/Coffee Shops Several Black-owned cafes and coffee shops are notable including Kikwetu Coffee, AndySunflower Café, Southside Grinds and others. These cater to the demand for neighborhood hangout spots.

CHICAGO BUSINESS FAST FACTS

  • Chicago had 173 pro-Chicago business expansion or relocation decisions in 2021, including 73 new locations and 100 expansions of existing companies
  • There are over 1,200 minority-owned certified businesses in Chicago
  • Chicago had 26 companies on Crain’s 2023 Fast 50 list of the city’s fastest-growing companies
  • of businesses in Illinois but saw no revenue change or increases during the pandemic. However, 66% reported losses
  • 37.8% of surveyed Black-owned firms have been operating for 3-9 years, while 30.8% have for 10+ years
  • 60.2% of Black-owned firms in Illinois are non-employer (no employees), 35.3% have 1-4 employees