Every March, we honor the achievements of women making history in our society. March 8th is recognized as International Women’s Day and is celebrated as Women’s Week worldwide.
According to the National Restaurant Association, women hold 56% of the jobs in the restaurant industry. In addition, one-third of the restaurants in the U.S are majority-owned by women, with 48% half-owned by women.
Today, the restaurant industry has more women in ownership or management positions than any other sector.
To celebrate Women’s Week, we wanted to share some of our customers’ stories as women-business owners, their recent successes during COVID, and advice they have for other women business owners.
Rose & Lois
In December 2018, Rachel Pritty decided that she wanted to open a coffee shop. She had recently moved to Indiana with her family and had always worked remotely from home, but soon after starting a family, she wanted her own business.
When asked her “why” behind wanting to start her own business, it involved providing for her two daughters. At the time, Amerlee Rose was one month old, and Anna Lois was two years old. That’s where the name Rose & Lois comes into play.
Rachel spoke with other small business owners, and they encouraged her to pursue her dreams. She is a Food Scientist by education, Coffee Lover by passion, & Application Scientist by experience.
What’s your story?
“I have always enjoyed working from coffee shops, and I think a lot of people enjoy the romantic experience of sipping on a hot beverage while meeting friends or getting out of the office to meet a client or complete a project. I wanted there to be food involved, too, because as a food scientist, I really enjoy food. I like the research and development side of things behind the bar.”
Photo Credit: Heather Sherrill Photography
During COVID, Rachel took that passion for R&D and created bottled coffee drinks to deliver to local healthcare workers. Her coffee shop also has produced hundreds of meals for the frontline workers at the hospital.
She shares, “It was incredibly rewarding to have other business owners stop in and buy coffee for our customers so it would be free of charge to them while still supporting us. I also received a call from a customer who paid for us to deliver coffee and pastries to the grocery store “essential workers” up the road from us.”
As a woman business owner, it was quite startling to Rachel to think that in her lifetime, a woman could not receive a business loan without having a male co-signer, and she is hardly past 30.
“There is definitely progress, but there is more progress to be made.”
The best restaurant advice she would like to share with other women business owners is to find a friend/mentor who can be there to cheer you up after a bad day. The entrepreneurial journey is an incredibly emotional roller coaster with the highest highs and lowest lows. It can be very lonely, so don’t go in it alone.
Green Gables Cafe
Green Gables Cafe is a small family and women-owned business in Coral Gables, Florida. When Ana Rabel’s daughter, Laura Mar, graduated from college, she worked at a non-profit food bank and did not feel she was making a difference.
Then began the dream between a mother and daughter to create sustainable, nourishing food for their community’s well-being.
They brought Coral Gables its first restaurant that emphasized sustainability, focusing on local and organic foods. Ana and Laura share a passion for creating food that are good for your body and are nurturing.
On the darkest days during COVID, Ana sometimes felt like closing because business was tough. However, her community was overwhelmingly supportive that she owed it to them to stay open. Green Gables Cafe had repeat customers that would come in every day to support their business. Ana shared a special moment that brought her so much joy during these uncertain times. A customer once came in, and on a $10 ticket, they tipped $100 for the staff. This kind of support allowed Ana to keep all her staff employed.
Green Gables Cafe would not be what it is if not for many women’s sheer dedication, passion, and hard work. Ana and her three daughters have created a strong women-network in their restaurant. From servers to chefs to management, women are the backbone of this restaurant.
What advice would you share with other women business owners?
“Always follow your instinct. We are so intuitive we don’t trust ourselves enough. Trust your concept and calling. Be proud to say this is what I’m here for, and this is what I bring to the table. Help each other out; it’s a community, not a competition.”
Red Coach Donuts
The idea for opening up Red Coach Donuts came to Joy Bancroft, the owner, about four years ago. She and her husband were vacationing and had some great donuts that made her miss a beloved donut shop in the Stevensville, Michigan, area years ago.
Dale’s Donuts was a safe space where “community” happened, and Joy grew up going there. She took her kids there before school and even worked there in high school, but the shop closed down in 2010. The friendliness of this place inspired joy to revive Dale’s Donuts and create Red Coach Donuts.
She told her husband, “Let’s bring back Dale’s,” and open that kind of place. And with Dale’s blessing and help, Joy did just that. During this time, she also shares that she was reading Joanna Gaines’s book “The Magnolia Story” and was further encouraged not to be afraid to fail but press on and “go for it.”
Though many women face barriers opening up a business, Joy found that her community was incredibly supportive and pointed her in the right direction. One of the local casinos that she has a contract with actually highlighted that she is a woman business owner, and it made her eligible for a particular grant if she needed it.
Joy shares, “I think much of the credit goes to the women all over the country who have stepped up in the last ten years to move women to the forefront of successful businesses.”
Joy has been a mentor for other women business owners; in particular, she has encouraged her daughter-in-law to open a boutique. Joy has helped alongside her throughout the process, and now The Golden Rule Boutique is two months away from the opening date.
Joy’s faithful customers are what has kept Red Coach Donuts in business throughout COVID. Last March, when the pandemic hit, the shop did have to close for a while. But, to continue serving their customers and provide for the community, they opened up for a special one-day event. They took pre-orders and made a little more to take to the local emergency room and feed the frontline workers.
Once stay-at-home orders lifted, Red Coach Donut’s re-opened for curbside pickup, take out, and delivery. CAKE also helped them launch online ordering so that they could be more efficient with incoming orders. Their amazing customers flooded them with orders, allowing Red Coach Donuts to pick up right where they left off.
So, here’s to all the restaurants ran by powerful women. Thank you for all your hard work, contributions to the restaurant industry, and inspiring younger women to be brave and follow their dreams.