We wanted to take a moment to reflect on a project that began around this time last year—our #OpenKitchen initiative. Over the last year, we’ve learned a lot and would like to share those learnings with you.
As the #MeToo movement swept through the restaurant industry and, more broadly, the hospitality industry, we decided to take a stand that aligns with our brand’s purpose, both internally and externally. With the central message of the campaign being that “together we can change the way we work and the way we run our businesses so that no one is harassed or discriminated against,” we truly believe that everyone deserves a safe seat at the table. And it is our hope that our restaurant partners and diners share in that belief.
Over the course of 2018, we hosted Open Conversations, a dinner series for amazing women in hospitality, where they expressed their thoughts on the issues that matter most to them. We listened and heard about the many, many ways restaurateurs of all kinds approached and worked through these issues. At our event in San Francisco, the conversation focused on equity of funding and opportunities to grow one’s business as a female entrepreneur; in Los Angeles, the conversation turned toward sharing training and management tactics that have enabled some of LA’s most influential female restaurateurs to create a culture of open feedback with the staff in their restaurant businesses; in New York, the conversation centered on restaurant employees and tipping practices. Each conversation surfaced challenges unique to that particular market and ones universal to the community at large. We were – and are – continually inspired by the actions that the restaurant industry is taking to broaden diversity and inclusion within its community.
We also explored the idea of badging restaurant profiles, but we determined a stronger solution would be to create a discovery tool to bring diners into these restaurants – check out our lists highlighting women-led restaurants here.
Although it is over a full year later and much has evolved in the global dialogue surrounding #MeToo in our industry and beyond, we are all hungry to create a culture of open, ethical practices in our restaurants and to foster a safe environment for their staff. At OpenTable, we continue to believe in the idea of an #OpenKitchen, where all employees are treated fairly and work together as a team toward the same goals, and ultimately, that every restaurant is a community and that community isn’t always defined by the behavior of a single offender.
In the year ahead we are partnering with the James Beard Foundation in support of their Owning It program, which “introduces emerging female leaders in culinary-related fields to best practices related to visioning, business planning, fundraising and pitching (their) business.” We supported the Atlanta event in April with DC up next in June. We look forward to what the future holds as we support our restaurants everywhere and the millions of guests they serve.