Mar 9, 2024 15 min read

Powerful Women

Powerful Women
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Friends of Branded!

Happy Saturday and I hope everyone had a great week.

I usually wait until the end of the Top of the Fold section each week before sharing the inspiration for my title, image, and theme, but not this week.

Let’s dive into this right out of the gate.

This week, for the very first time, I heard the song "Powerful Women," a collaboration between Pitbull and Dolly Parton.

Pitbull, also known as Mr. Worldwide, Lil’ Chico, and Mr. 305, has been celebrating this collaboration with Dolly Parton, also known as The Queen of Country, The Iron Butterfly, and a NATIONAL TREASURE (that last one is my wife’s personal nickname for Dolly).

The new song pays homage to working women and features Dolly’s “9 to 5” along with a shoutout to the great Lily Tomlin & Jane Fonda (who co-starred with Dolly in the 1980 film of the same name). I’m moving away from the song itself now, but for those that want to check it out, here you go: Powerful Women.

By the way, do you think the movie 9 to 5 could be remade today? What about The Bad News Bears, 16 Candles, or The Sure Thing? Just curious. 😊

Ironically, also in the year 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8th, 1980, as National Women’s History Week and then, in 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress designated the month of March 1987 as Women’s History Month.

Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women's History Month. Since 1988, U.S. presidents have issued annual proclamations designating the month of March as Women's History Month.

Last week, on Thursday, February 29th (aka: Leap Year Day, a day that’s near & dear to my heart, IYKYK) the Women in Restaurant Leadership Summit (“WiRL”), with its mission to elevate, educate and empower, took place in Nashville, TN.

This event brought women from all ranks of the hospitality industry to workshop, learn and engage with one another. Over 200 women gathered to share and promote career advancement advice, to foster mentorship opportunities and to interact & connect with women in leadership.

Julie Zucker, a Branded partner, and our Chief Marketing Officer was among this talented group of women to participate in this inaugural event. Ms. Zucker contributed her own article this week on her experience at the WiRL event and you can find it below.

I want to acknowledge, congratulate, and give a shoutout to Friend of Branded, Mr. Danny Klein, Editorial Director at QSR and FSR magazines along with the entire board of restaurant leaders and WiRL attendees that made this inaugural event such a resounding success.

Finally, this week Branded portfolio company, Lunchbox released its list of the Top 30 Women in Food 2023. According to our friends at Lunchbox, this list was founded to highlight women in the food industry that are making way for a better tomorrow. In connection with this 2023 list, Lunchbox expressed that the restaurant industry has been nothing short of extraordinary, constantly pushing the boundaries of creativity and innovation at every front.

The Branded Team wholeheartedly agrees with our friends & partners at Lunchbox, and we too wish to celebrate the trailblazers, innovators, and boundary-pushers that are leading the industry to a stronger tomorrow. 

Lunchbox Top 30 Women in Food 2023

Pitbull & Dolly, Women’s History Month, the inaugural WiRL and Lunchbox’s Top 30 Women in Food 2023! Yes, that’s what drove this week’s theme – Powerful Women.

According to Zippia, woman make up 43.7% of all restaurant owners in the US. 54% of restaurant and foodservice employees are female, compared to 48% of the US labor force being female. 49% of managers and 56% of supervisors are female.

Proud statement coming – the restaurant & foodservice industry employs more female managers than any other sector in the US economy!

Females make up a majority of tipped positions in the restaurant industry: 70% of waitstaff and 58% of bartenders are female. Females, however, have a lower representation in the back of the house: 1 in 5 chefs and 1 in 3 cooks are female.

As a "Finance" person, here are a few factoids that I found in connection with my researching this week’s Top of the Fold section.

None of this should suggest that the restaurant & foodservice industry is a nirvana or has figured out how to breakdown gender equality barriers, but I’m certainly proud to be part of an industry that continues to try to be among the most democratized industries in the world.

Major restaurant companies have made commitments, and more are on jumping on board to achieve gender pay and representation parity.

Now a NOT proud statement coming – According to a Harvard Business Review, as many as 90% of women in the hospitality industry have reported some form of sexual harassment, which is more than any other industry.

I’ll defer to others whether the industry has responded sufficiently to close gender pay and representation gap that exists or have created a safer environment for its female workforce, but I don’t think anyone would argue that progress isn’t being made.

Leaders are going to lead and once again our friends at Chipotle are standing tall as they hired an independent firm to conduct a pay equity analysis and created a ‘crew pay’ strategy to ensure consistent and equitable pay decisions across the entire organization. Yum Brands as well conducts an annual statistical analysis in the US to confirm the company provides pay parity across genders and ethnicities.

Leadership starts at the top and when Chipotle and Yum Brands are making meaningful efforts to address pay parity and the gap in representation, the entire industry takes notice.

Friend of Branded and the CEO & President of the Texas Restaurant Association, Emily Williams Knight, puts the bullseye on childcare as the biggest piece of the puzzle that needs to be addressed before true gender equity can be achieved in the industry.

According to Ms. Knight, “If we don’t figure this out — the unaffordable and inaccessible childcare issue — we can’t expect women to advance in our industry if they have or want to have children. We can encourage them and mentor them and send them to every conference in the world, but if we don’t get the basic blocking and tackling down, we will not grow women leadership in this industry.”

With the childcare issue such a critical piece of the puzzle, I want to again recognize companies taking actions. McDonald’s, for example, made a multimillion-dollar investment to provide caregiver benefits, paid time off and more flexibility.  These programs were specifically designed to support women, which represents the largest group in the McDonald’s workforce.

While I don’t believe the following question needs to be asked, let’s make sure we dot our “I’s” and cross of “T’s” here.

Why does all this matter?

Fantastic question and I appreciate you (me) asking it. 😊

I’m a free markets person and this work is important b/c decades of studies show women in leadership positions help increase productivity, enhance collaboration, inspire organizational dedication, and improve fairness (and I’m obsessed with fairness, I’m not kidding, I’m obsessed with it).

Despite these benefits, only 10% of Fortune 500 companies are led by women.

I’ll admit that I don’t spend a great deal of time reading reports from the American Psychological Association (“APA”), but if I’m going to ask you to dive into this topic with me, I’m going to do the work and try to share some intel and expertise (which means I’ve got to source insights from experts).

A report from the APA concluded that women leaders make work better. Below are a few of the takeaways from the science behind the conclusion (all of which come from a report from the APA):

While we’re all rolling through Women’s History Month, yesterday, March 8th, was specifically International Women’s Day.

For those that like to dig into the details (and maybe enjoy a little history), International Women’s Day was organized by the Socialist Party of America and the day was meant to commemorate the 1908 Garment Workers' Strike in which women protested their working conditions.

In the following decade, international women’s suffrage movements organized National Women’s Day across various nations in Europe and today, International Women’s Day is a public holiday in several countries and the United Nations observes the holiday and creates a theme in support of women’s rights each year.

As I wrap-up the Top of the Fold for this week, it’s not lost on me that today is March 9th and my mom’s birthday who passed a little over two years ago.

Readers of the H^2 are aware of how I sign-off on each & every edition of the Hospitality Headline with the tagline and conviction, “It takes a village.”

That’s not remotely a throwaway line and it’s what my mom said in her toast at my younger brother’s wedding to thank all the people that were present who helped her raise a son.

As Branded advances as an active investor and participant in the digital transformation that the hospitality industry is embarking on, I take great pride in the network & community that Branded is building. It’s this ecosystem that Branded values, appreciates, and feels so proud to be part of.

It takes a village.

Dale - a way of life! Let's Go!

The first shoutout today comes as a result of the conference schedule that's heating up!

People who know Branded, are fully aware that no one should every threaten us with a good time.

Tomorrow (Sunday), the Branded team will be on the road heading out to Vegas for the Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference (“MURTEC”).

Besides being super excited to see old friends and make some new ones, Schatz and I have the privilege of taking the main stage and will be recording our Hospitality Hangout podcast live in front a studio audience.

We will be joined on-stage by Mr. André Vener from the incredible Dog Haus and Mr. Chris Demery from the booming artisan-style pizza chain, Blaze Pizza.

The Hospitality Hangout has been called the “Seinfeld of Podcasts” b/c no one is really clear what the podcast is about (is it really a podcast about nothing?).

Joe Rogan has referred to Schatz’s “Quick Fire” segment on the Hangout as “the single best segment in all of podcast history” (important disclaimer, Schatzy started the rumor that Mr. Joe Rogan said that, but thus far we’ve not been able to verify that in any way shape or form).

Sterling Douglass, the Hangout’s “Technology Guy” and our award-winning & leading guest host (and at present, the ONLY guest host we’ve ever had) describes his over a dozen appearances on the podcast as “forgettable at best” and has asked if he can “buy the rights to my appearances on the Hangout and bury them next to episodes of the Little Rascals.” 😊

We’re excited to be on stage and record this most special on the road edition of our Hospitality Hangout with our friends at MURTEC!

But wait, there’s more.

A special guest is flying into Vegas to record an episode of the Hangout and we couldn’t be more excited! The time and location of this recording is being kept confidential and just like Taylor Swift is asking of Mr. Jack Sweeney, we will also ask him NOT to use Jet Tracker to follow or give any indications of the identity of our special guest (taylor-swift-private-jet-tracker). 😊

In all seriousness, Schatz and I appreciate our friends at MURTEC working with Branded to make this special edition of our podcast on the road series happen. We’ve been attending this conference since the earliest days of Branded Hospitality, and we’re thrilled to continue to be part of this industry gathering.

Do you like apples? Well, Branded’s friends & partners at Cut+Dry are tackling one of the industry’s biggest and most difficult challenges, procurement and the supply chain. How do like them apples! 😊

Created by the team that built Sysco’s entire digital experience, Branded boldly believes Cut+Dry has created the industry’s best e-commerce platform and users will increase sales and improve the bottom line effortlessly by engaging with this unique platform.

So when our friends at Cut+Dry shared 4 trendy things shaping the foodservice industry, the Branded team not only listened, but I wanted to share these factoids with the H^2 community.

If you are in the foodservice industry, then here is your check-in on the trends to start the year with. From sustainable solutions to artificial intelligence:

1. Sustainable packaging

We all know the foodservice industry uses a lot of disposable packaging - some 1 trillion pieces of disposable products to be exact. Since people have been leaning towards third party delivery apps, a quarter of this packaging is used for go-to orders. That’s an outlandish amount of trash, making our planet worse off. 

So, industry giants like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s have taken strides to bring more sustainable packaging. It is not easy to match the convenience of plastic packaging, sustainable packaging has to be leak-proof, sturdy and travel friendly, all while also being easy on the wallet. 

We are seeing a lot of growth in this area with new products like bio-based plastics which are made from renewable resources and are compostable. Materials that are recycled many times to minimize waste and are minimalistic in design are also a growing trend in this space.

We are also seeing businesses start to offer packaging-as-a-service. For distributors, this is worthwhile, as they serve the same customers repeatedly. There is always a physical connection when goods are delivered to operators, and is an ideal point to return reusable packaging which can be cleaned and reused once again. 

2. AI powered pricing

Artificial Intelligence is the latest buzzword, and for good reason - there are some brilliant applications of it in many industries. The adoption of e-commerce has made dynamic pricing quite commonplace, and now, with the emergence of artificial intelligence, advanced AI-based algorithms can be deployed to optimize prices by predicting purchasing behavior and the external environment. For distributors, this is a game changer - you can leverage AI powered pricing along with target pricing to really give your customers the best possible price they can imagine. 

3. Plant-based menus

Plant-based food items are the latest hot picks by diners everywhere - with new products like plant-based shrimp and even ‘raw’ sushi! Plant based products are great options, which offer great health benefits, reduced environmental impact, improved animal welfare and are allergy friendly - guilt-free indulgences for the socially conscious diners. Distributors can get ahead of the game here. Start carrying more plant based products in their catalogs and encourage operators to try out new dishes and variations. 

4. Dining on a budget

Even though disposable incomes have shrunk, consumers are still keen to eat away from home. But, with less money to spend there is a growing demand for dining on a budget. The food away from home index is still relatively high, checking in at 5.08% year-on-year in the latest update in January 2024. 

Operators will have to focus on offering value meals, and offer discounts, specials, and other promotions to attract consumers. Operators may downsize menus and variations offered. This will flow back to distributors in terms of operators seeking better, more competitive prices for products that they purchase.

Branded is proud to work and be an investor in this important company. Since a picture says 1,000 words, below is a snapshot of just some of the value Cut+Dry delivers for its customers.

Readers of the Hospitality Headline, that are interested in learning more about Branded’s portfolio companies, investment strategies and future opportunities, are invited to explore becoming part of our Access Hospitality Network.

In today’s episode of Hospitality Hangout, Michael Schatzberg “The Restaurant Guy” and Jimmy Frischling “The Finance Guy” are joined by Morgan Harris Co- Founder of Restaurant365.

You can tune in on SpotifyAppleAmazoniHeart, or your favorite listening platform!

Make your drinks go viral!

Craft personalized drinks for an unforgettable guest experience!

Drink Ripples



By: Julie Zucker, Partner and CMO at Branded Hospitality Ventures

I never considered myself a feminist, not due to a lack of concern or belief in women's rights, but because I grew up in a family and community where, as a female, I was consistently treated equally, if not superiorly, to the males around me. It was simply the norm to be a girl. Acknowledging this privilege, I am grateful for my journey, though it has not been without instances of exposure, discrimination, harassment, and inequality.

Last week, I had the honor of attending the inaugural Women in Restaurant Leadership (WiRL) conference in Nashville, TN. Regardless of gender or career stage, here are a few key takeaways from the event.

Digital Restaurant Association 

We champion restaurants to thrive in a digital world

Join the DRA today


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About ACG New York

Founded in 1954, ACG is the premier M&A deal-making community with a mission of driving middle-market growth. ACG’s global network operates within 61 local markets worldwide and comprises more than 100,000 middle market professionals who invest in, own and advise growing companies. ACG provides events, conferences, bespoke meetings, deal-sourcing forums, unique experiences, educational seminars, and numerous benefits to non-members and members alike.

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🔍 Got Questions? We've Got Answers! 🌟

Satisfy your thirst for knowledge? Look no further! It's time to dive into our brand-new segment: "Ask The Headline"! 🎉

📅 We'll be answering YOUR questions every week. And here's the best part: you can choose to stay anonymous or receive a fabulous shout-out when we feature your question!

That’s it for today!

See you next week, (about the) same bat-time, same bat-channel.

It takes a village!

Jimmy Frischling
Branded Hospitality Ventures
235 Park Ave South, 4th Fl | New York, NY 10003

Branded Hospitality Ventures ("Branded") is an investment and advisory platform at the intersection of food service, technology, innovation and capital. As experienced hospitality owners and operators, Branded brings value to its portfolio companies through investment, strategic counsel, and its deep industry expertise and connections.

Learn more about Branded here: Branded At-A-Glance February 2024

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