Important Lessons from Female Leaders in the Restaurant Industry.

This International Women’s Day (IWD), Craver is proud to highlight some incredible female leaders in the restaurant and café industries — Brittanié Cadieux, Gina Ratliff, and Kaity Gould. 

We’ve had the privilege of interviewing each of these women on our #LocalBites podcast, and we’re excited to share their stories, wisdom, and lessons with you in celebration of IWD 2024. 

So, without further ado, here are three stories — and lessons! — from three of the most incredible female leaders in the industry. 


Brittanié Cadieux, Manager of Well & Good: A Delicious Dish

Brittanie Cadieux

Brittanié’s Story

As Brittanié Cadieux worked her very first job at a local Starbucks, the young barista could tell something was brewing beneath the surface (pun intended). 

That “something” was a deep passion for the hospitality industry, a love that would lead her to her future management position... but not without a few hurdles to overcome, first. Shortly after starting at Starbucks, Brittanié’s father was diagnosed with cancer. She jumped into action immediately, ditching the green apron to support her father’s catering business. 

Coincidentally, one of the restaurants on their catering list was Well & Good: A Delicious Dish (WGDelicious), an extremely well-loved Portland community staple. But, despite its cult-favorite status, WGDelicious met an all-too-common pandemic fate, closing its doors in March 2020. 

Luckily for the community, that closure was very short-lived. With the support of the entire community behind them, the Cadieux family took over WGDelicious, immediately starting the process of remodeling, revamping, and launching their grand re-opening in August 2020.

Since then, business has been nothing but booming. From starting event hosting and catering services to expanding the menu and participating in community events, the new-and-improved WGDelicious has become an even stronger pillar in the Portland community. 


Our #1 Lesson from Brittanié: Hospitality + Kindness > Everything

When we asked Brittanié the recipe for building a coffee shop that feels community-owned, she only had two recipe ingredients to share — love and food. 

“The secret sauce is [that]... my parents have always been those people that [are] like, let’s just love people well and let’s feed them,” she says. Then, to take things to the next level, Brittanié says it’s all about kindness, friendship, and good ol’ hospitality. 

“[When] someone comes in, we’re like what’s your name? Where are you from? Why are you here?” a level of genuine kindness that runs deep in Brittanie’s own family.

“My parents always said they want [WGDelicious] to be a place where people are known,” she says. “And that is the one thing that we go out of our way to do.” 


Gina Ratliff, Managing Director of Multiple Cafés and Restaurants 

Gina Ratliff

Gina’s Story

When Gina Ratliff was studying graphic design in Savannah, she picked up a part-time job, as many students do. But, what she didn’t know was that her part-time bartending job would change the trajectory of her career — one mixed drink at a time. 

After spending time behind the bar, Gina realized she found much more fulfillment and creative freedom behind the scenes. So, she became the Managing Director for a company that reflected her own ambitious drive, proudly marching to the beat of its own, innovative drum. 

As it turns out, joining a company that constantly broke the status quo was exactly what Gina needed to thrive… and thrive she did.

Gina took the company’s six locations under her creative wing, setting out to better connect the sister cafés. Through updated SOPs and brand-new training programs, Gina restored the “connective tissue” between each location — something she considers her greatest accomplishment as Managing Director.

But, of course, she didn’t stop there. As a people person, Gina knew the company could do more for their employees. So, by implementing a new servant leadership style Gina transformed how the company operates… in ways far greater than new SOPs. 


Our #1 Lesson from Gina: Change Starts with Transparency and Vulnerability 

We asked Gina what she found most helpful when taking on such a massive company transformation… and her answer perfectly reflected how authentically she operates.  

“`F [the transformation] has been leaning into being transparent and vulnerable,” she said. “I even came in myself and said, hey, I think I want to do a transparent pay scale. I've never seen it done. I don't know what it looks like. I have no idea how effective it will be. But if you guys also think it's a great idea…I think we could really do something here.”

That sense of vulnerability and radical honesty has been a key facet of Gina’s success with workplace mental health support, too. 

“If we want people to show up and give their best… we need to give them some kind of recourse to deal with anything that they might be facing,” she said. “[That] also opened a lot of transparency for us with our employees and built a lot of trust for them and to come to us and say, you know what, I know I was late today. I'm actually really struggling and I haven't been sleeping well. And I would really like your help signing up for that mental health coverage.”

Kaity Gould, Co-Owner of Fort Smith Coffee Co.

Kaity Gould

Kaity’s Story

Living in Sydney, Kaity very quickly learned that Aussies don’t mess around with coffee. Kaity got to work perfecting her pulls and fine-tuning her frothing, but discovered something else in the process, too. 

She realized that coffee couldn’t exist without community. Business meetings, dates, catch-ups… life happened over a cuppa, because coffee wasn’t just coffee in Australia.

Fast forward almost a decade, and Kaity was back in the U.S., settling down in Fort Smith with her family. And, she noticed something about her new home right away: nobody was roasting coffee, making stellar lattes, or promoting the coffee culture Kaity had grown so used to. 

But, lucky for Fort Smith’s coffee lovers, Kaity’s long-time dream to open her own coffee shop was about to come true.

She visited farmer’s markets and showed up online, sharing her passion for third-wave coffee and the importance of a welcoming, safe space to enjoy it. And, because of that outreach, it wasn’t hard to attract folks to Kaity’s first brick-and-mortar café: Fort Smith Coffee Co.

Once inside the historic-building-turned-café, with a delicious, locally-roasted cup of coffee, people felt safe to revel in their newfound passion for coffee culture… just how Kaity intended. 


Our #1 Lesson from Kaity: Passion Speaks Louder Than Words

When we asked Kaity what she did to make Fort Smith Coffee Co. stand out, her answer wasn’t something you can buy or borrow — it’s a true, deep passion for coffee. 

“People can geek out on the coffee industry really quick, and we do for sure,” she said. “So we just knew that we wanted to start with the freshest coffee possible.” 

But, for a true coffee lover like Kaity, “fresh coffee” was just the beginning. From creating housemade syrups to guaranteeing customer service without judgement or pretension, Kaity put her heart into making Fort Smith Coffee Co. a place for everyone. 

“[When] we hire… one of the first things I tell them is, don't come off pretentious,” she said.

“We want to serve every single customer that walks in our door. So if they're used to gas station coffee or another bigger chain, we want to be able to say, okay, so what do you like to drink? And, okay, cool. Yeah, we can make you something very similar. Here's what we call it.”

Where to Find More

Want more from Brittanié, Gina, and Kaity? Here’s where you can find (and continue to learn from!) these incredible industry leaders. 

Brittanié Cadieux

Gina Ratliff

Kaity Gould