Dining

Who Runs the World?

Women-owned food businesses are on the rise in New York City
Prohibition Bakery
Leslie Feinberg and Brooke Siem of Prohibition Bakery | Photo: Gabi Porter

According to a new study by the Center for an Urban Future, women in New York are opening food businesses in greater numbers. Women-owned businesses have grown significantly in many sectors over the last five years, and in the accommodation and food-services industry, they grew 45 percent from 2007 to 2012.

This growth accounted for 4,000 new businesses in the city's food and hospitality sector, and many of them are in the Bronx and Brooklyn, "where their numbers grew by 72 percent and 76 percent, respectively," the study says.

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Women aren't just operating more food businesses; many are interested in making a social impact, the study reveals. From Hot Bread Kitchen, which employs low-income, immigrant and minority women, to Snowday Food Truck, which educates and employs formerly incarcerated youth, women are starting and running all kinds of food-oriented social justice enterprises. They're also breaching the food and tech worlds with websites like Amanda Hesser's Food52 and Sonia Kapadia's Taste Savant, the study explains.

While women are breaking through in these new areas, however, there is one area that remains male-dominated. The spike in women-owned business hovers around "smaller businesses rather than New York's high-end restaurant scene," Eater points out. According to the study itself, women own only "11 percent of the establishments listed on Eater's list of '38 Essential New York Restaurants.'"

While women are ruling the cupcake scene—13 of the 15 largest cupcake stores that have recently opened in New York belong to women—they're still not getting into the famously male-dominated kitchens of New York's high-end spots. The so-called "Boys Club," in other words, is very much still alive, and it's the next door that needs to come down.

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