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Eat at Black Dragon

Kurt Evans plans to open later in June at 5260 Rodman Street with no fanfare, just good food. Follow Black Dragon on Facebook and Instagram for details. 


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Support causes Kurt Evans supports

The chef is and has been involved in the following organizations:

Free the Ballot, a “multi-racial grassroots alliance of incarcerated people, their family members, friends and supporters who are organized to support each other and led by the black and brown communities most impacted by mass incarceration.”

The Doe Fund, the people behind Ready, Willing & Able provide “economic opportunity, housing, career training, and supportive services to homeless and formerly incarcerated men.”

Drive Change, a New York City-based nonprofit that supports “formerly incarcerated young people” and creates “quality employment pathways” into the hospitality industry.

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To a special edition of CitizenCast

Welcome to Big Rube’s inspiring interview with Chef Kurt Evans.



Big Rube’s Philly: Kurt Evans’ Black Dragon

Our legendary photographer, chef and style icon meets up with a man after his own heart — a West Philly guy who supports the community through cooking (among other things)

Big Rube’s Philly: Kurt Evans’ Black Dragon

Our legendary photographer, chef and style icon meets up with a man after his own heart — a West Philly guy who supports the community through cooking (among other things)

In 1991, my grandmother turned the corner at 56th and Locust and saw me holding a platter from the Chinese store on the block. In front of everybody, she slapped that platter out of my hand and told me, “Don’t support anybody where you got to jigsaw your hand through some bulletproof glass to buy anything.”

Later this month, my friend and fellow chef Kurt “Kurt Cooks” Evans is turning the paradigm of the urban Chinese takeout joint on its head with Black Dragon, a Black American Chinese restaurant on the site of a business that was just like the one my grandmother banned me from.

Black Dragon is as small as a city block takeout, but Evans is making it feel bigger. He took out that plexiglass Miss Mary (my grandmother) hated — and moved a door to give customers restroom access. There’s a counter and tables outside so you can dine in, not just takeout.

Evans also added art, including a black-and-white photo collage by Ivben Taqiy that honors Latasha Harlins, the 15-year-old Los Angelite shot by a Korean American shopowner while trying to pay for orange juice.

“Forty, 50 years ago, Chinese stores first came into the neighborhoods and set up where there was no other competition,” says Evans. “I like to think that Chinese food may be the first ethnic cuisine that a lot of Black Americans encountered.” Today, a lot of those stores are empty, overlooked. Evans wants to preserve their memory, the good and the bad.

While planning the restaurant, the chef met with students at Villanova, Swarthmore and Penn. Some of those kids told him their grandparents once operated these stores.

Culturally relevant Black American Chinese food

Black Dragon will pay homage to the way a lot of us grew up, eating from these places, hanging out outside them. It will also recast the cuisine and scene to be more culturally relevant to the neighborhood — and more intentional about welcoming neighbors. As someone who’s cooked alongside Evans at events I’ve catered — he was part of my “crack commando” crew of about eight who cooked for hundreds — I can also say it’s going to be more delicious than its predecessor.

Before Black Dragon, Evans was a chef at Booker’s and executive sous at South. He helped plan Down North Pizza, taught culinary classes to formerly incarcerated youth and people experiencing homelessness, and hosted about 70 End Mass Incarceration fundraising dinners. Evans got his professional start at the McDonald’s in Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. (If you’ve been there, you may know that place is no joke.)

Cooking is his heritage. Evans’ mom managed the Aramark kitchen for the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. His dad took him fishing and hunting in the summer. His grandmother both operated a numbers (gambling) house on 52nd Street and sold platters to support her 10 kids.

I got to taste Evans’ collard spring rolls at a pop-up recently. Amazing. His new menu will have crab rangoon that replaces imitation crab and cream cheese with Maryland crab from the land of Harriett Tubman and Frederick Douglass and pimento cheese; jerk chicken fried dumplings, salmon fried rice, and mac and cheese served in a traditional Chinese takeout container.

I’m excited about his General Roscoe’s chicken. Named after Roscoe Robinson, the first Black four-star general and a St. Louis native, it’s a sweet-and-spicy barbecue version of General Tso’s, with cabbage instead of broccoli.

A kitchen with a conscience

Evans is not planning a grand opening. He’ll open when he and his crew are ready, employing both second- and first-chance citizens — youth at risk for gun violence and incarceration. He knows kids can make more money on the streets so will pay them $18 to $20 per hour.

The opening will be the start of a new chapter “The story of me growing up, hanging in front of Chinese stores, to me owning one, being able to serve culturally relevant food there” he says. He hopes other chef-restaurateurs will follow his lead and take over other vacant takeout shops. Evans is glad to share the wealth.

West Philly born and raised with a slosh of Brooklyn, New York in between, Big Rube partnered with Mitchell & Ness in 2000 to help make it a global brand marketing and selling high-end vintage jerseys. He has been photographing Philly since 2009, including in a Daily News Column from 2011 to 2017. He’s also a chef, operating Chef Big Rube’s Kitchen seven days a week at Pitcher’s Pub in Manayunk, selling the best handmade food in a Main Street dive bar.


Chef Kurt Evans

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