By Natalie Morales
Yoanna Logan, an assistant manager at Café J, recalls a time when she was the only female bartender.
“It has always been the boys behind the bar,” Logan said. “And the head waiters were always male. Slowly, but surely, it has kind of changed.”
Women account for 47.1 percent of food service managers nationwide, according to a May 2015 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. However, the same report shows only 19.6 percent of chefs and head cooks and only 39.9 of cooks are female.
Cafe J seems to fit the national data in that kitchen jobs are still more often held by men.
“We don’t have any girls in our kitchen,” Logan said. “We have [had some]; it just hasn’t worked out.”
One reason is that if a woman working in the kitchen becomes pregnant, working with a hot stove and being on her feet would be a concern, Logan said.
Logan said managers’ personalities seem to affect the makeup of the staff. Years ago, when the restaurant had a female general manager, the wait staff included more women, she said. When the general manager was a gay man, “we were surrounded by beautiful-looking boys,” Logan recalled.
A self-described “jack of all trades,” Logan has worked as a waitress, a cocktail server and a dishwasher in her 10 years at Cafe J. At times, she also filled in as a manager.
Since the restaurant’s recent transition to a new, male general manager, who is the owner’s son, Logan’s role as assistant manager has become solidified. But being a woman in a leadership position is “a double-edged sword,” she said.
Although the other employees and the wait staff listen to her, she feels less well-positioned among her superiors.
“I have to know the business end of it to make my point valid,” Logan said.
Breann Robinson, a waitress at Cujo’s Sports Bar & Grill, works with an all-female wait staff. This is consistent with the BLS report, showing that 70.1 percent of wait staff members nationwide are women.
But the general manager at Cujo’s is a man, and Robinson thinks this is a good thing for supervising an all-female staff.
“I think it’s better that he’s a guy because he’s able to stay objective,” Robinson said.
Robinson had a female general manager at her previous job, which was also a bar. She believes no one took her seriously.
But there is also a downside to having a male manager now, in her opinion.
“It’s not great that he’s a guy when he picks favorites and decides who to treat better,” Robinson said.
Two-thirds (66 percent) of women and 58 percent of male restaurant workers experience sexual harassment from management at least once a month, shows a 2014 report titled “The Glass Floor.” The report was produced by the Restaurant Opportunities Center United, a nonprofit advocating for low-paid service industry workers
But Robinson says this is not the case at Cujo’s.
“I mean, we all have bar mouths, and we all say bad words and joke around,” Robinson said. “But it never goes any farther than that that I’ve seen.”