Allison Chavez, co-founder of Sweet Paris, a Texas-based chain of 11 crepe shops, is ready to grow her concept with a little help from other female leaders. Although she and her husband, Ivan, launched the crepe concept in 2012, they now rely heavily on their female-dominated team.
Allison Chavez, co-founder of Sweet Paris, a Texas-based chain of 11 crepe shops, is ready to grow her concept with a little help from other female leaders. Although she and her husband, Ivan, launched the business together in 2012, they now rely heavily on their female-dominated team.
“We take pride in the fact that nearly 70% of our employees are women,” Allison Chavez told FastCasual. “Among these, eight take up executive roles at Sweet Paris, which is currently 45% of all executive roles.”
With the company’s mission statement being “Females empowering females,” it has partnered with Girls Inc., a nonprofit organization that equips girls with the skills to navigate through economic, gender and social barriers to grow up as independent individuals. Along with the partnership, the brand encourages female customers to write post it notes to put on canvases around the restaurant to give words of encouragement, advice and an empower message to young women.
“With nearly 70% of our team members being female, having developed a brand concept appealing to a female audience, and being focused on growing talent from within, it is only natural for us to constantly promote our female team members to leadership positions,” Allison Chavez said. “Our female managers and execs have very specific talents and traits that make them ideal leaders in a hospitality setting. They are incredible problem solvers, role models, and mentors. They generate teamwork and collaboration with their staff members and have enhanced attention to detail that produces incredible guest satisfaction levels.”
Each of those skills will be important as Allison and Ivan Chavez take Sweet Paris beyond Texas.
“We see this goal coming to life in Summer 2022, as we open our first location in Miami, Florida,” Allison Chavez said about the company opening its second location in Miami before the end of the year. The first DFW store is opening in early 2023.
The company also understands, however, that it must continue to meet the needs of its employees in order to keep success and growth on the menu.
“We have family and medical leave policies in place to support our employees, with up to 12 weeks of paid leave, with the option to add an extra month in case of maternity leave,” Allison Chavez said. “The policy applies to both executive and hourly positions, after being employed for 12 months or more with the company.”
The chain also strives to offer female employees opportunities for advancement.
“We believe in promoting from within, as opposed to hiring executives and leaders from outside the company to fill in important positions,” Allison Chavez said. “We encourage and train our staff to learn various aspects of other roles so that when it is time to promote them, they are ready to successfully step into that next level of responsibility.”
As is the case in Sweet Paris, the restaurant industry as a whole is a fertile ground for women to grow into leadership positions.
Those seeking such positions should start by trusting their instinct about what their customer desires and focus on achieving superior guest satisfaction and productivity levels, Allison Chavez said.
“Additionally, they must learn to delegate early,” she said. “A common pitfall is micromanaging to the point of losing the bigger picture. Carefully selecting teammates they can trust to execute their vision on a daily basis will free them to adjust and get ready to take that next step in climbing the corporate ladder. With persistence and constant preparation, the sky is the limit for any woman in our fascinating industry.”