Ricky Moore answers the phone, and a question about how he’s been doing, with a Diana Ross lyric. 

“Everything is everything,” he says. “You know what I mean?” 

It’s a quip that pretty well embodies Ricky Moore’s practical, wry—and yes, soulful—approach to running a restaurant. Moore, the chef-owner of Durham’s Saltbox Seafood Joint, announced today that his contemporary fish shack is the recipient of Discover’s #EatItForward award.

Durham-based bakery Chez Moi also received an #EatItForward award. 

The campaign, which began in early July, recognizes Black-owned restaurants and is awarding $5 million over the course of 17 weeks. Moore, a dedicated inland ambassador for the joys of North Carolina seafood, received $25,000 and says that he appreciates the company “putting their money where their mouth is.”

Moore says that the money will be reinvested back into Saltbox. He was nominated for the award by customers. 

“It was just people out there in social media land, who patron the restaurant currently or those who lived here before and now they’re far. Those people felt the need to nominate us because of the narrative put forth currently—which is a very refreshing narrative and one that needs to be spoken about,” he says, in reference to the push to support Black-owned businesses. 

Saltbox Seafood Joint, which has two locations in Durham—the 200-square-foot shack on North Mangum, and a larger space on Chapel Hill-Durham Boulevard—has stayed open throughout the pandemic. Moore employs 12 people and says that with some flexibility and reshuffling, business has stayed steady over the past few months. Both locations are well-equipped for social distancing, with walk-up ordering, takeout, and outdoor seating. 

“I want to look at it as a gift and I want to make sure that I take care of what I call my four pillars. So for me, this is: the community, my employees, the vendors and fishermen and all the people that you know, support the business community, and then the investors—that’s me, I come last. Whatever comes, comes, but those [first] three entities are what keep a business sustained.”

Follow Deputy Arts & Culture Editor Sarah Edwards on Twitter or send an email to sedwards@indyweek.com

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