Great Restaurants Give Guests The Pride Of Their Lives

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Like many members of the gay community, it took years of building up courage before I finally came out. Looking back now, the fear that Ifelt at the time is totally overshadowed by the immense amount of pride that Ihave now. Not only am Iproud to have come out and shown the world who I truly am, but Iam also proud to have joined a community of people who are strong, courageous, and quite frankly, fabulous.

In an interesting parallel, chefs face similar fears when opening a new restaurant. With the statistics against them (only 20% of restaurants actually make it), it takes a lot of courage and pride for a chef to put themselves out there for others to review. A restaurant opening is very much a coming out party. Once a restaurant opens its doors, it also opens itself to judgment. This judgment is something to which any member of the LGBTcommunity can relate – it takes courage.

Restaurants have much more to be proud of than just their food. They should take pride in the diversity of their guests, their staff, and the environment of openness and acceptance that they create for everyone. Not only is it fair practice, but it is also smart marketing.

One distinctive advantage of being open to, and marketing to, the LGBTcommunity is keying into the high level of affluence, sophistication and appreciation for food and drink that comes with our group. Gays often fall into the desirable DINKcategory (dual income no kids), leading to a more discretionary income and therefore more time and money to spend dining out. Because our community is very close knit, we quickly spread the word about something we love. If restaurants make a point to be LGBTfriendly by supporting our community through charitable and community involvement – we naturally show them support and love. As a group of very important influencers, our appreciation leads to critical and public praise – which means these restaurants will ultimately have a better chance to survive – hey, hey.

About The Author

Prior to opening Andrew Freeman & Co., a full service boutique consulting agency specializing in hospitality and restaurants in 2007, Andrew started his career working with several legendary New York venues including The Rainbow Room, The Russian Tea Room and Windows on The World. In addition to running the day to day marketing/public relations activities at these famed New York restaurants, Andrew was also responsible for the creation and management of their special events and catering departments. At all three venues, he also launched and then oversaw successful outside catering businesses. Andrew left New York in 1997 and departed for San Francisco to join Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. He spent ten years with Kimpton, launching over 40 hotels and restaurants as well as the global brand. For his first five years with the company, Andrew was first Director and then Vice President of Restaurant Sales and Marketing. In this role, he worked with the restaurant team on the creation, launch activities and marketing/public relations programs for the group’s chef driven restaurant concepts and private dining venues. He was then promoted to Vice President of Public Relations and Strategic Partnerships for both the hotel and restaurant divisions. In this role, Andrew was responsible for strategic development and execution of all public and media relations activities. During his tenure Andrew also spearheaded several programs with industry and community partners including Kimpton Cares, a social responsibility program and Kimpton Hotels LGBT travel program which has garnered numerous awards and positioned Kimpton as one of the Top Companies for LGBT employment. Andrew also contributed to the launch of Kimpton’s highly successful Women in Touch program which became the spring-board for their national partnership with Dress for Success, an organization which helps low-income women enter the workforce and excel in their new jobs. Today, Andrew Freeman & Co. is busy consulting hotel clients, Hotel Shattuck Plaza, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, The Lodge at Sonoma, The River Terrace Inn, and Bay Area restaurant clients, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, Barbacco, Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar, étoile at Domaine Chandon, ETO, Fifth Floor, Grand Café and Poggio. Andrew Freeman & Co. is also proud to be an intricate part of SF.Chefs.Food.Wine a food and wine event that celebrates the unique flavor, diversity and bounty of Northern California. The annual event incorporates tasting tents, classes, seminars and an array of activities while supporting local charities such as the San Francisco Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, The Golden Gate Restaurant Association Scholarship Foundation and Project Open Hand. Andrew is honored to have also worked with JW Marriott/Marriott, Larkspur Hotels, Magnolia Bakery, Personality Hotels, the Palm Restaurant Group, and W Hotels. In 2009, Andrew Freeman & Co. launched a New York City office and is proudly serving clients including Pranna, Incentient and David Burke Restaurant Group. Andrew also works with a variety of clients on sales and service training, as well as concept development and operations refinement.

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