Meet the Founder

Chicago Black Restaurant Week ​was designed to create a  platform for African American Owned Eateries (in the Chicagoland area and surrounding suburbs) to be recognized and further patronized. The idea came to Lauran Smith during the Summer of  2015, out of the mere desire to highlight and support these businesses.

Being that she specializes in Social Media  Management, she created the social media pages that would be associated with the restaurant week, and on ​day one​ of posting about this new event, she had 100+ supporters who were eager to learn more. In February 2016, this inaugural week was a huge success and received heavy media attention. February 2021 – Year  Six – will be no different! 

To date, CBRW has well over 10,000+ supporters and counting has been featured on multiple local and national media platforms,  including television and print, and has garnered the support of the community at large. Lauran was also a member of an exploration team with the City of Chicago & Mayor’s Office, where the focus of the group was to come up with additional ways to support Black  Businesses. Lauran continues to remain hopeful that this annual event will be able to garner the support of the African American community. Chicago Black Restaurant Week is the first of its kind in Chicago, and falls on the second week of February, during Black  History Month by design. She looks forward to another successful  Chicago Black Restaurant Week, and your participation! 

About Lauran A. Smith

W​ith a business start in March 2012 (CEO of Elle’s Digital Agency,  a Digital Media Consulting Firm), Lauran has worked with quite a  few notables and has been sought out for major opportunities.  Lauran was a featured Panelist, being viewed as a “master of her craft”, during Chicago’s Social Media Week (September  2013), discussing “Social Media Mastery”. She sat among  additional social media professionals and business owners such  as ​Cameka Smith​ (Founder of The BOSS Network), ​Brian 
Hagen​ (of Twitter), ​Kevin McFall​ (of Ebony/Jet Magazine) 
and ​Carrie A. Williams​ (Managing/Digital Editor of Today’s  Chicago Woman). 

L​auran was also solicited by Cameka Smith (Founder, The BOSS  Network) as Event Publicist, which added her to the team of women who hosted Legendary Supermodel Beverly Johnson for an evening of dialogue, networking, and mingling (event title “Ladies That Lead: An Evening With Beverly Johnson”), August  2014. Lauran also has published work for Jet Magazine, a  prominent and globally recognized magazine under the umbrella of the legendary Johnson Publishing Company (Chicago, IL). She was a recipient of the “40 Under 40 Young  Women Professionals Award” for being a rising leader in the field of Social Media (2015), a Contributing Writer for Voice Of Hair, is currently a columnist for The Chicago Defender, is a recipient of the distinguished “Women Of Excellence” award (presented by  The Chicago Defender in 2017), a recipient of the Ideal  Education Award for continuing the legacy of the Civil Rights  Movement, is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., is a  Mentor, and is also the Founder and Designer of Chicago Black  Restaurant Week. Lauran has been seen on WGN-Tv, Windy City  Live, Fox News Chicago, & ABC 7’s “Chicago Proud”, and has been heard on WVON, WBEZ, Urban Broadcast Media, The Sip  Chicago, & 106.3FM. She has also been featured in Rolling Out  Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, Time Out Chicago, National  Public Radio, Huffington Post “Black Voices”, and the Chicago  Defender. Lauran is a Native of Memphis, TN., is the oldest of three children and the only Daughter of Rev Dr and the Late Mrs. Ozzie E Smith, Jr.