ALEXANDRIA, Va. (7News) — At Magnolia's on King in Old Town Alexandria, Liz Beal and Shi Johnson-Bey have an upstairs room all to themselves.
They pull out their phones and begin taking pictures and videos of the food they've just ordered.
"Just a video of you waving hello. No text. No speech needed," Beal tells the restaurant's co-owner, Leonard Holton.
It's all for their TikTok account, 'The Blacklist DMV.'
"Being blacklisted normally has a negative connotation to it, so what we're doing is taking that, flipping that stigma around it and basically saying, yeah, this is a good thing," said Johnson-Bey.
The account has amassed thousands of viewers over the past year, but today's video is a little different.
RELATED: 'Black Boys Om' creates wellness space for Black men and boys
It's the first time they've created a video inside of a restaurant.
When they launched The Blacklist DMV, restaurants were closed to indoor dining.
"It has literally changed our whole business. Before the pandemic, I always ask people, how'd you hear about us. It's usually google or a referral. Now, it's Tik Tok," said Leonard Holton.
Beal says Holton was one of the first supporters of their efforts, when they didn't have many followers.
"It means a lot. There have been three restaurants that have closed on this block, and luckily I'm not one of them," he says.
He says part of that is due to The Blacklist DMV.
"We're just showcasing the work that Leonard and all these great business owners have already done," said Beal.
She and Johnson-Bey say TikTok and reposts to Instagram reels are just the beginning.
They're in the process of creating a website and phone app database for all of the Black-owned food establishments in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia.
They know of at least 530 and have visited more than 75, creating lasting friendships with the owners.
"Once you start hearing their stories, it really just makes you want to support them," said Beal.
That includes Holton.
"My fourth great grandfather was kidnapped and he was held captive about two blocks away from here. His name was Solomon Northrup. He was a character in 12 Years a Slave produced by Brad Pitt in 2013," said Holton.
It's just one of many stories they hear when connecting with people all across the region.
Beal says the idea first came last year when she and her mom wanted to support Black-owned businesses, after the murder of George Floyd and a summer of protests.
She thought there should be a one-stop-shop for them, so she set out with her boyfriend to create one.
Nearly a year later and the work continues, taking recommendations and conducting a lot of research.
They hope as their business grows, so too will Black-owned food establishments.
In addition to their current website, you can also connect with them on their Instagram page and TikTok.