Los Angeles News Observer Exclusive Interview with the Spicy Green Book Founder
By Darlene L. Williams, Los Angeles News Observer Contributing Writer
LOS ANGELES, CALIF.—Finding good restaurants and other food eateries can be a daunting task at times, but finding good black-owned restaurants has just gotten easier since the launching of an online website called the Spicy Green Book.
Whether in search of a restaurant, food truck, pastry shop, or pop-up— the Spicy Green book has just the listing suitable to satiate the taste buds.
Entrepreneur and visionary, Danilo Batson seems to have created the perfect recipe, an online guide that showcases and supports black-owned restaurants and beverage industries in the Southern California area.
With racial unrest, rising police brutality, and a pandemic wreaking havoc on African American communities and other people of color worldwide; even so, the 29 year-old Bellflower native’s vision reaches beyond the sole purpose of merely highlighting black businesses.
On the other hand, Batson envisions his Spicy Green Book as a way to help close the gap in racial divide by building bridges and forging relationships between police officers and non-black communities.
“I want them to get to know us and our employees, and become familiar with the communities we operate in.” Batson said.
The Los Angeles News Observer (LANO) spoke with Mr. Batson via telephone for a Q &A interview about the Spicy Green Book.
Q: What is the Spicy Green Book?
A: The Spicy Green Book is a online directory listing promoting black-owned businesses in the food and beverage industry. Additionally, we help online businesses with their communication and providing professional photography, videography, design, journalism and overall branding.
Q: Where did you get the idea to showcase black-owned businesses?
A: The idea started in that, I felt if we want to go down this road of activism and inspire change, there’s a lot of ways to do it. But, I think, most people whether right, left, or in the middle can agree that change happens in communities as the money grows. So, if you reinvest in the community, it’s an easy way to inspire positive impact. And, with that, the easiest way for me to do that was with food, beverages, and restaurants.
Q: Is the Spicy Green Book website strictly for black-owned businesses and restaurants in Southern California, or does it expand beyond that?
A: No, it’s beyond that. We’re planning at this moment to expand nationwide and throughout Canada. I have volunteer photographers in Toronto, Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Portland, Carolina and so forth, so we’re expanding way beyond California. And, yes, it is for black-owned businesses—food and beverage.
Q: Who is Danilo Batson?
A: My background has been in food and beverage for about nine years. I started off as a server and bartender while living in Bellflower.
Previously to Spicy Green Book I was pursuing my nursing degree. I was in nursing school when this idea came across and I tried to take care of this business and let this thing grow and manifest itself. But the amount of time that I put into it, there was no way that I could do both; one was going to suffer if I tried to, so I wanted to make sure that I gave this (Spicy Book website) the proper attention and did right by it.
My background is business which is first venture is everything basically. In nursing, you learned to always be an advocate for your community and always be the best thing to help the community and that in itself can be taken a lot of different ways, not just taking care of your patient.
Q: What is the website address?
Q: How do businesses get registered with the Spicy Book website?
A: Go to the homepage add listing button, and it will take you to a form to fill out and verify that you are a black-owned. After the form is filled out, which will include your contact information; we will contact you and get the process started.
Q: You have a vision to foster relationships between police officers and the communities they are sworn to serve and protect; how do you devise such a plan with the Spicy Green Book?
A: I wouldn’t say that it’s specifically to police officers, but it’s specific to anyone outside of the black community who wants to get to know us. We want to work on inviting people into our community to experience our culture; knowing that no community is monolithic, we’re all different we all have different ideas—and that doesn’t make you more or less than the other.
The black Texas barbecue in Dallas is not the same as in Houston; we want you to get to know all of us. This is kind of like the saying “dent in the bridge” of getting people to walk across and get to know all these owners and the people who work there.
Q: Is there a fee for business to register with Spicy Green Book?
Q: How would a person become a volunteer with your organization?
A: They could go to the website and complete the volunteer questionnaire.
Q: You are non-profit, right? How would a potential donor go about donating to Spicy Green Book?
A: Yes, I am non-profit. There is a donation page. We are graciously taking donations. We do not charge business owners. Black people are putting their time in to actually help and make this thing possible, so yes, we need donations. Every little bit helps.
“There are three things that I stress at the website, and number one is volunteers. We need more volunteers. We need more of them spread out. The second thing we need is donations and funding to actually get the right people involved in this project and make it all possible. Lastly, we need brand awareness. We need to start spreading our brand around. Some food trucks and businesses are not online yet or don’t have an online presence where we can find them. And the only way we’re going to find everyone and try to look under every rock is to spread our brand around, whether word of mouth or social media to get more businesses on the list.” Batson said.