Dining Guide - Page 63 - Taking the lead

Dining Guide
- Page 63
Taking the lead

At Baltimore restaurants, black women rarely hold positions of power. Here’s what they’re doing to change that.


By John-John Williams IV
The Baltimore Sun


Bar Vasquez general manager Charisse Nichols has been referred to as a racial epithet, repeatedly mistaken for the hostess and even spat upon. As an African-American woman and a leader at the upscale Argentine restaurant in Harbor East, she knows that this treatment can come with the territory.


“I don’t see a lot of me,” said Nichols, 44. “I can see that as being a jarring thing for other people.”


In a city that is 63 percent black, African-American women are a rarity in positions of power in restaurants. Although it’s not easy to pinpoint one cause—or the numbers, aside from anecdotal testimony by industry insiders — some attribute the dearth of black female leaders to a lack of access and opportunity, a perception that restaurant jobs aren’t viable careers, and a pervasive “good old boys” club in the industry’s upper echelons.