Meet Dana

Meet Dana

Dana Rodriguez from Denver, CO writes in the September 18 edition of the Denver Business Journal that “For many Latinos, restaurants are the doorway to the American dream.” Dana, who is one of the owners of Denver’s popular Work & Class, continues:

"I spoke no English, but through some basic lessons from my managers and creative labeling I learned to navigate the kitchen. I washed dishes for a couple of weeks and then I learned to do basic prep in the kitchen. The ingredients were tough but then a mentor who spoke Spanish took me under her wing. I learned every facet of food prep, working the line, the bakery and then catering.

My skills in the kitchen, coupled with hard work impressed my bosses and I was eventually asked to become a sous chef.

I eventually moved on to help another upstart restaurant, where I began to learn about the management and budget balancing that go into a restaurant business. It was here that I met my future partners in what would become Work & Class, a popular restaurant that offers a ‘square meal, stiff drink, and fair price’ in a laid back atmosphere.

This Hispanic Heritage Month, I’m celebrating that my chapter in the American dream isn’t a rarity. Immigrants, minorities and women are finding many opportunities in the restaurant industry. Growth in restaurant ownership among minorities and women outpaced growth in the overall restaurant industry during the last 10 years. 80 percent of restaurant owners started in the restaurant industry in an entry-level position. 57 percent of first-line supervisors/managers of food preparation and service workers in 2010 were women, 15 percent were of Hispanic origin and 15 percent were African-American.”

Read more from Dana in the Denver Business Journal.

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