Stories of Top Women Entrepreneurs in the Restaurant Industry

Updated on April 11, 2019

Being a woman in a patriarchal society is tiring. Faced with gender inequality, the pay gap, and sexism, women find it tough to thrive in the corporate world.

But many women have risen above these problems that slow us down. Breaking gender stereotypes, they have passed with flying colors.

Here is a list of top women influencers from the restaurant industry whom you can take inspiration from.

Tara Gilad

Founder at Vitality Foods

A woman who has turned her passion for healthy foods into a profitable business venture is Tara Gilad. She is the owner of Vitality Foods which sells superfoods which are healthy and nutritious.

In Sept 2018, it reported a record high sale of 3.5 million acai bowls. The superfood brand has also opened stores in multiple locations with the current number being 100.

The idea was born after her 7-year old daughter Ella was found to be allergic to certain nuts, seeds, and dairy products.

Being a working mom and starting a woman-led franchise system was a challenge. By monitoring the product for quality, Gilad has raised the bar higher for health entrepreneurs in general and women in particular.

Linda Vap

Founder at HuHut Mongolian Grills

A woman who personifies bold leadership abilities is Linda Vap. HuHut Mongolian Grills, whom she co-founded along with her late husband in 1999 is a success story.

With close to 60 units in 16 states, the success of the Asian food restaurant chain is credited to the entire Vap family.

After the demise of Daniel Vap in 2014, Linda and her son Andy have taken the restaurant chain to greater heights.

She is an epitome for a successful woman entrepreneur who has succeeded despite all odds. ‘Women need to believe in themselves to become great leaders’, says Linda who advises women to take risks and delegate in a business.

Heather Neary

President at Auntie Anne's

Heather Neary is a woman who has mastered the ropes of the trade by doing menial jobs such as making sandwiches, subways and working as a waitress. All of this was done at the tender age of 15.

Now, she’s what we’d call a Wonder Woman.

Working with Auntie Anne's for 14 years, Heather has spearheaded the marketing activities for the firm with aplomb.

Also, as president of Auntie Anne's, Heather leads all strategic initiatives that keep a 30-year-old brand like Auntie Anne’s not only surviving the rapid evolution of retail, but thriving.

She is someone who isn’t afraid to go out of her way to get things done. This is something that she wants all women to follow. A seasoned professional, Heather Neary opines that since women are the key decision makers in the family, they wouldn’t find it difficult to excel in the boardroom as well.

Stephanie Vitori

President at CheeseBurger Baby

A chef by profession who has also succeeded as an entrepreneur is Stephanie Vitori. Her foray into the restaurant business began way back in 2001 when she bought CheeseBurger Baby.

Coming from humble beginnings, where she first started out as a delivery truck driver, Vitori’s story is of unrelenting grit and determination. She is a woman of substance who going places and crusading in the restaurant industry on her own terms.

If you are a woman wanting to start out in the restaurant industry, you could certainly take some inspiration from her.

Marla Topliff

President at Rosati's Pizza

Leading Rosati’s Pizza from the front since 1999 is Marla Topliff. She was instrumental in the expansion of its stores from 60 to 170. She looks after the corporate and vendor relationships along with managing human resources.

A veteran in the pizza vertical, she has been featured in Entrepreneur.com and other publications such as The Suit Magazine and Chain Pulse Magazine.

Being a frank proponent of gender equality in the workplace, Maria’s advice to women in the corporate world is to look beyond the gender disparity and perform well. Topliff is someone who believes that women are great leaders owing to their empathic nature and great communication skills.

‘Keep your ego out of the way and try to learn as much as possible’ is her actionable advice to women.

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