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Kathleen Richardson
Founder, Urban Farmhouse Market & Café
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July 29, 2019 -- For Kathleen Richardson, the changing landscape of the restaurant industry is challenging, but exciting. 

The founder of Urban Farmhouse Market & Café in Richmond, Va., says increased competition and the evolution of technology are making operators, including herself, think about how they can successfully position their businesses for the future. 

Richardson, a former marketing executive with a number of restaurant chains, including Starbucks, Panera and McDonald’s, as well as digital marketing firm Fishbowl, recently appeared on our podcast series, Fast Casual Insider. In a separate interview, she also shared her ideas about industry disrupters, why she loves her job and why leadership roles appeal to her.

Once you started your career in this industry, what made you gravitate toward leadership roles?

From my first job – straight out of college – until today, I have always been comfortable in taking the lead and providing direction, making decisions, and then dealing with the consequences of those decisions. Perhaps it’s because I am the first-born daughter of an immigrant, who was determined to achieve the American Dream. I have always believed in setting goals and working hard to attain them.
 

What is your favorite part of your job and why?

My answer has changed over the years. I still love the ‘never-know-what-to-expect,’ crazy kind of pace or days we encounter, but these days my interest in running the day-to-day operations has lessened while my focus on what our customers are seeking has deepened. I’m interested in finding out how we can improve our products, make them even better for our guests, and how best to market them in this different world of digital communications.
 

What are the biggest disrupters to our industry?

The evolution of technology will continue to dramatically change our industry in the short term. Many have cited a number of reasons why the ‘people’ aspect of our business will diminish – automation, ‘ghost’ kitchens, self-service options, to name a few. But I think all of this will lend itself to an opportunity of creating welcoming spaces that meet the need for human interaction.
 
To hear more of Richardson’s industry insights, listen to Fast Casual Insider: Kathleen Richardson.