Baton Rouge native Lakeisha Britten is a working mom: her son Jaylen is a sophomore at Texas Southern majoring in civil engineering, and her youngest, Jeffrey, is a middle school student obsessed with LEGOs. Like many parents in the restaurant industry, work-life balance is somewhat of a mythical feat—something that feels out of reach at times. For Britten, applying for the role as assistant general manager at Ruby Slipper in 2018 provided her with both the career success she yearned for and the support to still raise a family.
Ruby Slipper, a New Orleans-based café specializing in an all-day boozy brunch, was founded in 2008 and has since expanded to 22 locations across Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
The brunch chain attracted Britten with its daypart shifts, which gave her the flexibility she needed. Moreover, she says she felt connected to the brand’s NOLA roots and core characteristics: being neighborly, gracious, optimistic, genuine, and adaptable.
“At Ruby Slipper, we have six pieces of our DNA that we strive to embody as an organization and as individual crew members … I embrace and embody those characteristics each and every day,” Britten adds.
Within a year, Britten was promoted to general manager, and by 2021, she rose to the level of district manager. She says her operational acumen and determination have not only been the vehicle for success at Ruby Slipper, but have also helped her overcome numerous challenges throughout her life.
“In my career, I’ve been looked over for opportunities of advancement, just because I didn’t look the part,” Britten explains. “I learned to never quit and never give up on myself, even if someone else didn’t see my potential. Even through adversity, I always give 100 percent and try to be a better version of myself.”
Britten says mentorship is one of the important components behind Ruby Slipper’s accomplishments, and it’s something she enjoys being a part of. She’s been able to take a stance as both a mentee and a mentor at the breakfast chain. “I believe in sharing knowledge both ways,” she shares.
“I’m not always giving it out, I’m learning from other people as well, whether it’s the dishwasher or the CEO. [I teach others] to be open and continuous with their learning, and this has been my success.”
Ruby Slipper’s co-founder and co-owner Jennifer Weishaupt has been a strong presence in Britten’s career. Her passion for women’s rights and equality motivates Britten, and she says Weishaupt has believed in her since day one. “She has the gift of making everyone around her feel special and bring out their best potential, and she’s been very inspiring to me,” Britten says.
Due to this culture of mentorship, she’s always taken her life lessons to heart and used them to encourage her team to believe in themselves. This aptitude for positive leadership didn’t go unnoticed by the brand.
In October, Britten was promoted to regional director of operations, overseeing her hometown of Baton Rouge, Old Metairie, the Marigny, and the newest Metairie location, which opened in the same month. For Britten, this has been the pinnacle of her career, and she says it’s an honor to receive the recognition.
The newest Metairie location on Veteran’s Memorial Boulevard marks Ruby Slipper’s first Louisiana opening since the pandemic. Britten says she’s enthusiastic to be a part of the brand’s future growth; not only is she leading the operational team, but she was there on opening day, feeling the warmth of the New Orleans community she knows so well.
“It’s very heartwarming to see the love our community showed us as the Ruby brand,” Britten says. “It’s such a good feeling to know how much we’re loved here.”
As Ruby Slipper continues to expand its presence throughout the Southeast and beyond, Britten is looking forward to further stepping into her position and taking on a bigger role. The brand’s continued growth is something Britten is increasingly attracted to and says she’s excited to mature alongside.
Additionally, Britten continues to work with women in the restaurant industry and shines as a beacon of motivation for success through her outspoken leadership and emphasis on two-way education.
“I always say the sky is the limit, and if you want it, you can achieve it. It all depends on what you’re willing to put into it,” says Britten, adding that she encourages her mentees to never “let anyone tell you that you can’t, because if I can, they can. If they keep pushing, their day will come, too.”