"You should open a restaurant!" is such a breezy phrase to toss out. Elbow deep in a talented chef's food, it's easy to forget what a monumental suggestion that is. Beyond collecting a strong menu of dishes, opening a restaurant means navigating licensing and payroll, staffing and managing, updating a complex POS system and handling inventory, not to mention doing publicity and surviving the blowback from reviews. In order to do it successfully, a chef can't just be a good cook, they have to be a whip-smart business person. Which is why Charleston Wine + Food festival veteran Randi Weinstein has launched her very own women-only F&B business conference, FAB.
"I want to empower women and give women the upper hand and more resources and more information before they make any rash decision," says Weinstein. As a vocal feminist and leader in Charleston, Weinstein has watched the city's savvy male chefs thrive. Now she's ready to see Charleston's F&B ladies do the same.
What that means is on June 11-13, 2017, women from across the U.S. and beyond can attend a two-day course in how to be successful in food and beverage.
"The 101 track is for women that are working in the industry who either want to open their own restaurant or business or want to become a more valuable player within the industry," explains Weinstein. "We'll cover intellectual property and expansion. It's a lot of content in two days, but a major awakening. I want to scare people straight. Like, 'Holy shit this is bigger than me knowing how to cook.' Then after that, we go into HR and employment laws and talking about what onboarding, benefits, wage, nondisclosure agreements, appearance, grooming, drug use, all look like."
And for ladies who are already business owners looking to further their success, FAB has a second set of courses.
"The 202 is geared to women in high management who made it through, took that leap, and trusted their vision. They now own a business. The topics that are going to be covered and be more relevant are about what's going on currently and looking at the future," says Weinstein.
The idea for FAB came to Weinstein shortly after she ended her time with Bad Bitches, the female-scholarship organization she founded with Sarah Adams and Kelly Klausner. The three disbanded after the organization gave out its first round of F&B scholarships and part of the break-up had to do with the women's varying goals. "I felt like once we gave these women money for scholarships, it shouldn't end there," says Weinstein. "We should teach responsibility. And go into that education component."
Needing to scratch that itch, Weinstein began developing her conference and recruiting speakers. And the lineup alone should be enough to get women to splurge for a $500-$700 FAB ticket. From the industry side of the biz, Weinstein's lined up names like Chef Barbara Lynch, owner of Barbara Lynch Gruppo, Jen Hidinger, co-founder of Staplehouse Restaurant, and Carolyn Richmond, co-chair of Fox Rothschild's Hospitality Practice. On the editorial side, few can turn their noses up at speakers like Kat Kinsman of ExtraCrispy.com, Dana Cowin, the former 20-year editor of Wine & Food magazine, and Amanda Kludt, Editor and Chief of Eater.com. The networking alone is worth the cost of admission.
But simply schmoozing is not Weinstein's goal. She's fiercely passionate about giving women the tools to succeed, and that's exactly what she hopes they'll get from FAB.
"Every other industry has continuing ed. of some kind," she says. "When I worked with Wine + Food, chefs always asked 'What can you do for my staff? They're working just as hard or harder, what can you do for them?' And we couldn't do anything. We couldn't give them tickets, but I said what you can do for your team is invest in them." And she thinks the same applies to individuals. Weinstein hopes to give women in F&B an opportunity to invest in themselves.
For more information, visit thisisfab.com.