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National Restaurant Association - Women cook up business success

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Women cook up business success

Throughout history, women have played a central role in the evolution of the restaurant industry.

From Christiana Campbell, a Williamsburg, Va., tavern owner during the 1700s, to Juliet Corson, operator of the first full-fledged culinary school in the 1800s, to modern day powerhouses like Sally Smith, president and CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings, and Julia Stewart, chairman and CEO of DineEquity, parent of IHOP Corp. and Applebee’s International, women impact the $709 billion a year restaurant industry. And that number is growing.

In March, as part of national Women’s History Month, the National Restaurant Association is paying tribute to women who have made and are making a difference in the restaurant industry. Witness the personal accounts and accomplishments of Focus Brands President Kat Cole, Arby’s chief people officer Melissa Strait, Ristorante I Ricchi chef-owner Christianne Ricchi, Centrolina chef-owner Amy Brandwein, and Adenah Bayoh, a Liberian refugee who at 34 is the youngest-ever African-American IHOP franchisee, to name a few.

Recent NRA research found more than 45 percent of today’s managers are women, compared with 38 percent in other industries. Further, the number of restaurants owned by women increased 50 percent between 1997 and 2007.

“Restaurant jobs, like no other sector, provide opportunities to women of all backgrounds and experience levels,” says NRA president and CEO Dawn Sweeney. “Our industry helps women gain the experience needed to jumpstart careers or advance toward management or executive positions more quickly than most other industries.”

Veteran restaurateur Ricchi, successful in the industry for more than 30 years, gives women starting out some advice, too: “Stop and think about who you are, what you want, what the market wants, and go from there. Have the courage to take some calculated risks and a visionary zeal that keeps you going. I’m continually saying to myself, especially after a bad day, failure is not an option.”

Find out more about women in the restaurant industry at America Works Here.

Pictured top right: IHOP franchisee Adenah Bayoh

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