One of the things I love most in an interview is the unexpected answer.
Like hearing Van Eure, owner and operator of The Angus Barn, describe herself as a teacher.
Van is the consummate business woman and omnipresent restaurateur, with a commanding and sophisticated presence. I expected a description like visionary, or even activist because of her passionate commitment to a range of worthwhile causes including sustainability, animal rescue, mental health, and all issues of relevance to restaurant operations.
But when you consider how effectively she instills her personal values of hospitality, service, and engagement in all who represent her restaurant, then “teacher” makes perfect sense.
Van is on the FSR cover because of her leadership and accomplishments in the industry. But her insights, and in particular her views on the positions women hold in our industry, are what make her the ideal role model to kick off our Year of Women in Foodservice.
Perhaps the most unexpected message from the interview at Angus Barn was this: Van Eure is a restaurant success not in spite of being a woman, but largely because she is a woman.
Van says it even more directly: “Being a woman is an asset in this industry.” Women are naturally nurturing, detail-oriented, and people-focused. Those are gender positives for restaurant operators.
At FSR, we declared 2013 the Year of Women in Foodservice in part to celebrate the accomplishments of women throughout foodservice and to recognize how far we’ve come as an industry striving for equality. Now there are many role models leading the industry—in fact, 50 percent of all U.S. eateries are owned by women, that’s a 28 percent increase from just five years ago.
But before we break out too many bottles of bubbly, the Women’s Foodservice Forum notes that only 17 percent of executive management positions in restaurant operations are held by women.
However there are many positives for women entering the industry. Kelly Primus, WFF vice president of marketing and communications, says “people who are new to the foodservice industry are often surprised by how common it is for someone to work their way up from waiting tables to management. Foodservice really is an industry where people can grow into a powerful, challenging, and fulfilling career.”
So our mission this year is twofold: To highlight the meaningful leadership of women like Van Eure, and to encourage others to recognize and embrace the untapped potential that resides in women working throughout our industry.