Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Hispanics find incredible opportunities in restaurants

Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Hispanics find incredible opportunities in restaurants https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/empty-restaurant500-508x198.jpg

By Paul Schlienz

It’s Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S. – a time when we celebrate the many achievements and contributions of Hispanic Americans. If you’re looking for the incredible positive impact Hispanic Americans have had in this country, one need only look at our own restaurant industry.

Consider the statistics.

One-quarter of all U.S. restaurant workers are Hispanic, including everyone from owners to workers cutting their teeth in entry-level positions.

The statistics on Hispanic restaurant ownership are particularly exciting. Hispanic ownership of restaurants is far outpaced our overall industry, which provides more opportunity for ownership than just about any other industry. From 1997 to 2007, U.S. Census Bureau data reveals that the number of Hispanic-owned restaurants increased by 80 percent in comparison to 36 percent for all restaurants.

Restaurants also employ more Hispanic managers than any other industry. Hispanics, indeed, are twice as likely to hold a management position in the restaurant industry as they are in the overall economy.  In fact, a fifth of all restaurant managers and supervisors are Hispanic. Additionally, nearly one in four chefs is Hispanic.

“I’m proud to be part of an industry that is encouraging, that constantly pushes each other outdo themselves, and rewards hard work with a higher quality of life,” Maira Isabel Morales, executive chef at Schlotksky’s Bakery Café, wrote in Latina Lista. “I believe that’s part of what draws so many people, including Hispanics, to the restaurant industry. It is a place of opportunity.”

In a nutshell, the spectacular success of Hispanics in the restaurant industry illustrates the fact that restaurants move people upward on the economic ladder and promote people within their ranks. Indeed, nine out of 10 managers, supervisors found their first their first restaurant jobs at the entry-level.

“If you’re willing to work hard, the restaurant industry can open up doors and give you one heck of a life,” said Morales. “I’ll never forget a young man named Pedro, who came to my cooking school at the age of 13. His mom didn’t think he wanted to be a chef, but he quickly proved her wrong. He was the first one to get to class every Saturday, and the last one to leave so he could learn more – even staying to help me clean up. He went to on to graduate… traveled to Spain, work[ed] in Chicago at Michelin star restaurants, in his early twenties, and most recently opened and is co-owner of a restaurant and specialty sausages company in Puerto Rico. Stories like Pedro’s and mine are not unique – you’ll find them all across the restaurant industry. I’ve been inspired by so many wonderful people in the Hispanic community, and I hope that I’m now able to inspire some with my small contribution to the culinary field and this great country.”

You can learn more about Hispanic contributions to America’s restaurant industry at the National Restaurant Association’s America Works Here and on this video.

“I am proud to work in an industry that embraces us for who we are, and for the different experiences we bring to the table,” said Morales. “To succeed in the culinary field, you don’t need to look and sound like everyone else – in fact, you need to stand out!  What I love most about this industry is that it will reward you for being yourself, for constantly learning, and for working hard. That’s what I tell young aspiring chefs whenever I get the chance.”

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