While perhaps few in number, host groups, restaurants and kitchens run by people of color are helping to change the existing paradigm.
Businessman Warren Thompson is an example of an industry leader creating a fairer work environment. He founded Thompson Hospitality in 1992, which includes nearly a dozen restaurants across the Mid-Atlantic and Florida. Restaurants like Milk & Honey in Charlottesville, Virginia, The Delegate in Washington, DC, and Yot Bar & Kitchen in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida all fall under the Thompson Hospitality umbrella.
Thompson knew he wanted to be in the restaurant business before he could drive. At age 12, he told his parents he wanted to own a Shoney’s after having dinner there one night.
“They said you can do anything if you’re willing to work hard. So from then on I focused on getting a college business degree, graduate school, MBA, and then getting started in the restaurant business,” he says.
He would eventually enroll at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business where he was the only African American in its 13-student MBA program. After graduating, he started working as an assistant manager at Roy Rogers, which was part of the Marriott Corporation at the time. After nine years at Marriott, he went on his own.