Vox: This entrepreneur is competing with DoorDash — by delivering only from Black-owned restaurants

David Cabello’s business was barely a year old when the pandemic struck. He’s the founder of Black and Mobile, the self-proclaimed first Black-owned food delivery service in the country to exclusively deliver for Black-owned restaurants. At times, he says, the pandemic and the protests have made him feel like a character in A Tale of Two Cities. His business has quite literally experienced, as Dickens put it, the best of times and the worst of times.

On one hand, the pandemic brought a level of disruption that made it difficult for any small business to survive, let alone expand, as Cabello was in the process of doing when Covid-19 brought many industries to a halt. And the pandemic hit Black and Mobile hard. In early March, the company had expanded its delivery services to include more than 25 restaurants in a new city, Detroit. Two weeks later, stay-at-home orders led all but six of them to close. The 25-year-old self-taught entrepreneur made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend his company’s services there just weeks after they’d started.

But these difficult times have also brought Black and Mobile its share of good fortune, though Cabello struggles with how it was gained. In late May, when news of the police killing of George Floyd led to nationwide protests, Cabello’s business saw an unexpected shift. Alongside widespread calls for criminal justice reform, people began encouraging others to support Black-owned businesses to help Black communities achieve economic justice. Even amid competition from much larger delivery services like DoorDash and Uber Eats, Cabello’s business soared. In June, Black and Mobile more than quadrupled its average weekly sales.

The company even caught the attention of Pharrell Williams and Jay-Z, landing Cabello and his brother and business partner, Aaron, a cameo in their music video for a song aptly titled “Entrepreneur.”

Now Cabello is charting a path forward. Despite economic instability in many regions, he’s continuing Black and Mobile’s expansion in Atlanta and Detroit. And he remains hopeful that the generous support his business has received will continue in better times.

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