Q&A With Founder of Spicy Green Book, an Online Directory of Black-Owned Businesses

Founder and executive director Danilo Batson launched Spicy Green Book to fill a need. The nonprofit organization’s website focuses on food and beverage businesses in Orange County and nationwide. Designed for “a hungry person,” the site offers users an opportunity to support local Black-owned businesses such as Grocery Outlet in Irvine and Bred’s Nashville Hot Chicken in Anaheim.

What inspired you to start Spicy Green Book?
It was a need. At the time, there were a lot of spreadsheets for Black-owned businesses to support in your area. I always like to think of long-term sustainability. Is this useable? No one really wants to look at a spreadsheet. You want to see photos of some food, how to get there, the contact information, and hours. I had a friend who knew how to build websites. I was like “Okay, let’s start something.” We started on this project and before I knew it, people were starting to reach out to us nationwide.

Tell us about the significance behind the name.
Spicy Green Book is a nod to “The Negro Motorist Green Book.” I saw “Trigger Warning with Killer Mike” on Netflix, where he tries to do nothing but buy Black for 72 hours. I happened to be watching that show as I was thinking of a name for the website. It felt like a direct call to action, and my family came up with adding “spicy” in front since we’re featuring food predominantly.

What has the response been like?
All of the feedback we’ve gotten is positive. The restaurant owners are very appreciative. We put video content of them talking about their brand. As far as people using the site, they just want to see it grow. People are always asking us to bring (our service) to their area.

What’s the vetting process like?
We talk to the business owner themselves or someone they deem to be a representative of their company to validate that the business is Black-owned and ask them to be on our website. We’re not just listing them, we’re doing photography and all this other stuff for them. We get their approval to come out, do a shoot, and authorization to use their likeness. We add businesses every week. There’s also a form for businesses to fill out to get put on the site.

Why do you think Spicy Green Book is so important, especially in light of the Black Lives Matter movement?
Everyone was in an uproar. People were reaching out to me personally about what to do next and I actually had an actionable answer to that question. When traumatic things happen, we feel powerless to help out. Even if the support you’re doing is just going to a business and being a consumer, that’s huge. You can go have brunch at a Black-owned business and that makes an impact. As that brand starts to grow, the next generation feeds off of that. Black kids can see a business owner and see that this is a career path for me.


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