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3 Ways Women are Cooking Up Changes in the Restaurant Industry

August 17, 2020

Women have been advancing in all aspects of the foodservice industry in recent years. Women in restaurants are claiming more leadership spots, opening their own establishments, and are steadily gaining more presence in professional kitchens. 

As women take on more leadership roles, they are bringing their unique perspective and bold management styles to all aspects of the restaurant industry. Learn more about how women are driving innovation in the food scene from Smart Foodservice. 

How Are Women in Restaurant Leadership Carving Out a New Niche? 

Female restaurant owners, networking pioneers, cookbook authors, and more are all creating major changes in the restaurant industry. With a focus on collaboration, highlighting women in foodservice, and novel business practices, women are revolutionizing restaurants. Here are just three dynamic examples of how they make it work and benefit the industry as a whole.  

1. Creating Career Trajectories 

Women across all realms of the restaurant industry are creating mentorship and networking opportunities for young up-and-comers. While some women starting out in foodservice see their time as servers or bartenders as temporary, organizations like Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF) hope to change that attitude. 

Focused around the idea that “When women do better, we all do better,” WFF aims to tap into the expertise of women executives to inspire a whole new generation. Through conferences and networking with top industry leaders, WFF brings women together from all aspects of the restaurant industry. Their goal is to break down barriers women face in the workplace, narrow the diversity gap, and pave the way for more executive management roles for women. This shift from seeing foodservice work only as a paycheck to a dynamic career path has the potential to increase job opportunities and foster employee longevity.  

2. Fostering Diversity  

While women are rapidly rising through the ranks in both those areas, foodservice still has a way to go. To help highlight women who are crushing it in foodservice, renowned cookbook author, Julia Turshen, founded Equity at the Table

This online directory is a who’s who of powerhouse women working in every aspect of foodservice. You can search for restaurants owned and operated by women of color, reach out to tea specialists fighting for fair wages in India, and hire professional services that are dedicated to the restaurant industry. The real genius behind the platform is that it showcases how wide ranging the restaurant industry is and reveals the scope of women working in lesser known parts of foodservice.  

3. Inventive Management Strategies 

For the most part, the restaurant industry adheres to a hierarchical management structure. However, it can’t deny the nature of a restaurant is collaborative, as it requires close communication between the kitchen, service team, and supervisors. Yet, management ultimately oversees operational procedures and pay scales. 

Irene Li, chef and co-owner of Mei Mei in Boston, has turned traditional management styles upside down. Li embraces the open-book management philosophy, which requires full transparency in all facets of restaurant operations. This means employees have access to business strategies, payroll reports, profit and loss, etc. While it may seem counterintuitive to share company secrets with every single worker, companies can reap huge benefits

Management is held accountable for any discrepancies in pay, employees become stakeholders, and it allows for serious collaboration between servers, cooks, dishwashers, and owners. All these advantages help with business growth, profitability, and employee retention. When an employee feels invested in the company they work for, they are more likely to stay and strive to benefit the business. Beyond the gains for the restaurant itself, the open-book model also serves a training tool to anyone wanting to open their own restaurant someday.   

Proud to Support the Restaurant Industry for Over 60 Years

Smart Foodservice has been working with and supporting the restaurant industry for decades. Our clients are our partners. When it comes to values, we’re committed to growing lasting partnerships and strive to exceed expectations. We provide all our clients with quality products, online ordering with Click&Carrygrocery delivery options, and professional services to help your business excel. 

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The Rise of Women in the Restaurant Industry


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