7 Women F&B Leaders That are Driving Positive Change Across The World

Across multiple industries, powerful women are breaking the barriers with greater force and determination. While the restaurant business is yet to reach the stage where there is complete parity between men and women, these inspirational women are showcasing their business acumen to attain new records in their professional careers. On the occasion of International Women’s day, to celebrate women’s success in the restaurant space, we have compiled a list of 7 women leaders that are redefining the restaurant space. 

Top Women Leaders Dominating Their Presence In The Restaurant Industry 

Take a look at these seven amazing women that are gracing the restaurant industry and inspiring the next generation of young women entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams.

1. Kat Cole, Former COO & President, Focus Brands

Kate Cole joined as the president of Focus Brands’ subsidiary, Cinnabon, an American chain of retail bakeries specializing in cinnamon buns in 2010. She led the turnaround of the franchise business and turned it into a $1 billion global brand. Cole was named chief operating officer and president of North America for Focus Brands in 2017.

Kate led the company’s multi-billion dollar businesses across seven different brands and all operating divisions, including franchising, company operations, licensing, and international divisions through global licensing, manufacturing, and e-commerce. She recently stepped down as the president of Focus Brands, ending a lengthy tenure, making her one of the industry’s most well-known executives.

Kat-Cole-COO & President, Focus Brands

2. Garima Arora, Chef and Owner, Restaurant Gaa

Garima Arora is the Executive Chef and Owner of Restaurant Gaa, and the all-day modern Indian eatery & bar, HERE, in Bangkok. In 2018, Garima Arora became the first Indian woman to receive a Michelin star for her Bangkok restaurant. In March 2019, Restaurant Gaa made its debut on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list with the Highest New Entry Award, and shortly after, claimed its place on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

Gaa is currently ranked at No.15 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2020 list. Garima’s cuisine is focused on applying traditional Indian cooking techniques to locally sourced ingredients. Today her mission is to rediscover and reform the narrative on Indian food through the recipes and her non-profit initiative, Food Forward India.

Garima Arora, Chef and Owner, Restaurant Gaa

3. Christine Assouad Sfeir & Carine Assouad, Owner, Semson

Christine and Carine started Semson, a fine dining Lebanese restaurant, in 2008. The concept appeals to the health-conscious consumers looking for kabobs, shawarmas, falafels, etc. With more than 40 restaurants throughout the Middle East, the sister duo plans to expand into the US market and are currently looking for opportunities to capitalize on the healthy eating trend by opening 200 locations across the US. 

Christine Assouad Sfeir also launched Dunkin’ Donuts in Lebanon almost two decades ago. She continues to serve as the CEO of Dunkin’ Donuts in Lebanon, and was ranked No. 19 on the Forbes list of the 200 most powerful businesswomen in the Arab world. 

Christine Assouad Sfeir & Carine Assouad, Owner, Semsom

4. Julie Felss Masino, President, Taco Bell International

Julie Felss Masino became the President of Taco Bell International, in January 2020. She is responsible for the strategy around accelerating Taco Bell’s global growth in key markets. In her previous roles, Masino served as the President for Taco Bell North America, where she ensured innovation, new store development, and a frictionless customer experience through digital and technology initiatives. Julie holds extensive restaurant and food industry experience, including 13 years in senior leadership roles at Starbucks, and has deep brand marketing experience in the retail sector as well. 

Julie Felss Masino, President Taco Bell International

5. Jennifer Schuler, CEO, Wetzel’s Pretzels

Jennifer Schuler is the CEO of Wetzel’s Pretzels, an American franchise of fast-food restaurants that is spread across 300+ locations in six other countries worldwide. Jennifer previously served as the Chief Marketing Officer and the President of the 350-unit quick-service chain.

Since joining Wetzel’s Pretzels as CMO in 2014, she successfully combined her marketing and operations experience with global brands to drive same-store sales, profitability for franchise partners and further grew the brand domestically and abroad. As a president, Schuler helped the company register a 2.8% increase in same-store sales.

Jennifer Schuler, CEO, Wetzel's Pretzels

6. Sana Chopra, Executive Director, Carl’s Jr. India

Sana Chopra joined Carl’s Jr’s Indian franchisee, CybizCorp, in May 2013 in the Training and Development division. In her role as the Executive Director, Sana set the foundations for establishing the new F&B Division for CybizCorp. She played a significant role in acquiring the master franchise for the California-based burger giant. Under her leadership, CybizCorp has received many awards for making a substantial contribution to the Food and Beverage Industry.

Her ultimate goal is to make Carl’s Jr, India’s favorite restaurant chain. She has contributed immensely in helping the company acquire the master franchise for The Embassy Restaurant and all the Lazeez Affaire Group Restaurants such as The Flying Saucer, Out of the Box Cafe, Boombox Cafe, The Town House Cafe, etc. 

Sana Chopra, Executive Director, Carl’s Jr. India

7. Rosalind Brewer, CEO and Group President, Starbucks

As the Chief Operating Officer and Group President for Starbucks, Roz Brewer leads the company’s businesses across the American continent. She contributed to helping the company implement policy changes and racial bias training for employees in more than 8,000 stores. Brewer has also bolstered Starbucks’ sustainability initiatives, including the introduction of a reusable version of the popular Starbucks holiday cup. Rosalind is the first woman and first African-American to serve as COO of Starbucks. In 2018, she was ranked 33 on the Forbes list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business.

Rosalind Brewer CEO and group president, Starbucks

We salute the spirit of these amazing women.

Happy Women’s Day!

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