10 Top Mom-Owned Restaurants in America

On the heels of the amazing Cherry Bombe Jubilee in March and in honor of Mother’s Day, we are pleased to highlight 10 top restaurants that are owned by women who are also mothers. Being a mother is one of the world’s most demanding jobs, as is running a restaurant. Yet, the restaurateurs behind these establishments have managed to successfully — though not effortlessly — tackle both!

1. Acquerello, San Francisco, California
Owner: Suzette Gresham, mom to Bibiana, 22, and Azaria, 18.
Awards include: 2013 Diners’ Choice Award for Top 100 Best Overall Restaurants in America.
Rave review: “Acquerello is always a wonderful dining experience. There is nothing on the menu that is not absolutely delicious and inventively presented. Ask the sommelier, and you will have the perfect wine recommended.”
Mom quote: “Passion makes up for a lot — lack of intelligence and lack of experience. If you are passionate about what you are doing, whether you are raising children or running a restaurant, you have a fighting chance. I think in life that is the main thing is just believing that you can do and finding a way. Chefs are kind of like firemen and policemen. We rush right in. We do what we have to do, and we don’t think about sometimes ourselves. It’s that attitude of ‘I can do it, I can fix it and I can save it.’ Maybe it is foolish on some level, but it is what you do and how you are as a person.”

2. Beast, Portland, Oregon
Owner: Naomi Pomeroy, mom to August, 13, and stepmom of two.
Awards include: 2013 Diners’ Choice Award for Top 100 Fit for Foodies Restaurants in America.
Rave review: “In my top three foodie experiences of all time. Each dish on this six-course tasting menu was beautifully executed. The service was impeccable, and the feel of the restaurant was fun, but romantic and quaint.”
Mom quote: “I want to set an example for my own daughter, and, hopefully, for a lot of kids (girls, especially), so that they can see how both work and family life can be balanced. I have a really good relationship with my daughter, and I have a great career. I hope to stand as an example of the idea that you can be both a mother and a career woman.”

3. Bibou, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Owner: Charlotte Calmels, mom to Julie 8 ½, Jeanne, almost 7, and Eloise, 20 months.
Awards include: 2013 Diners’ Choice Award for Top 100 Fit for Foodies Restaurants in America.
Rave review: “This is the second time I’ve been to Bibou, the first being just about a year ago. Just like last time, the food, service, everything was fabulous. One of my absolute favorite restaurants in Philly.”
Mom quote: “When you become a mother, you want to do everything perfect for your newborn: you want to make time for them, for you to recover, maybe extensive nursing. Our industry does not allow any time for any of this! I was back to work [in the office] 48 hours after giving birth! I got really lucky with our last daughter Eloise, as she would come with me to the restaurant daytime, and often stay at night. No ‘sleep/eat’ schedule for her, but we were together!”

4. Hundred Acres, New York, New York
Owner: Victoria Freeman, mom to sons Rolan, 24, and Marlon, 21.
Awards include: 2014 Diners’ Choice Award for Top 100 Best Brunch Restaurants in America.
Rave review: “If you love Cookshop, you’ll love Hundred Acres. The ambiance, food, and service all live up to the high standard, just a little north. Can’t wait to go back, but don’t want too many people to find out about it.”
Mom quote: “When I was at the restaurant, I would worry about the boys, and when I was home, I worried about the restaurant. At some point, I made a decision that when I was with them, I would be with them and not think about the restaurant. It’s also hard because my husband owns the restaurants with me, so we would talk about business at the dinner table. We had to put a halt to that.”

5. Joan’s in the Park, St. Paul, Minnesota
Owners: Joan Schmitt and Susan Dunlop, mothers to Dan, 33, Mark, 30, Kelly, 27 and Lindsay, 26.
Awards include: 2013 Diners’ Choice Award for Top 100 Best Overall Restaurants in America.
Rave review: “A Google search for trendy St. Paul restaurants brought Joan’s in the Park to our attention. Customer reviews were fantastic so we decided to give it a try. What an fabulous find! The food, service and atmosphere were all exceptional. Joan isn’t just a name here, she greeted us warmly, checked in on us during the meal and offered a great local recommendation when we inquired about a place to stop for a beverage and to check on the Minnesota Wild game. We completely enjoyed our two-hour dining experience and look forward to coming back!”
Mom quote: Joan says, “My kids didn’t mind too much when I had to miss things, and we just prioritized what the really important events were that would always attend and let the little ones go.” Susan adds, “We’re really lucky at this point because our kids are grown and work at the restaurant. I would imagine for somebody getting into this now with little kids,  it would be really difficult.”

6. Lenoir, Austin, Texas
Owner: Jessica Maher, mom to Hollis, 3, and expecting baby #2 any day now.
Awards include: 2013 Diners’ Choice Award for Top 100 Fit for Foodies Restaurants in America.
Rave review: “Superb food, great choices, unusual ingredients and attentive, knowledgeable servers combine for a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Depending on your particular perch and your fellow guests, the close quarters promote a friendly atmosphere where fellow foodies can compare notes about wine and the exotic combinations of ingredients. Chef Duplechan is an Austin treasure–part mad scientist and part artist. Mmwahh! (You’re welcome for not inserting an emoticon here with a French guy kissing his fingertips.)”
Mom quote: “I was talking to my friend Sarah from Rich Table and she is just like, I feel guilty all the time, like here is something in my son’s lunch that I didn’t make myself. It’s so silly; we put all these pressures on ourselves to do things, but at the same time that’s why we are where we are because we are really ambitious and we are striving for perfection. We are never satisfied, so we keep trying to make it better. I’m sure a lot of people are like that anyway, but I definitely have friends who are not in the restaurant industry who don’t put those pressures on themselves at all.”

7. Menton, Boston, Massachusetts
Owner: Barbara Lynch, mom to Marchesa, 10, and stepmom to three.
Awards include: 2013 Diners’ Choice Award for Top 100 Best Overall Restaurants in America.
Rave review: “Menton is far and away the best restaurant in Boston. The food is extraordinary, the wine list is superb and the service is wonderful. You must try the chef’s tasting menu — just put yourself in their hands and enjoy the next few hours.”
Mom quote: “Half the men wouldn’t be able to do what we do. They don’t know how to multitask, they just don’t…. Women are just more nurturing. It’s our nature.”

8. RPM Italian, Chicago, Illinois
Owner: Giuliana Rancic, mom to son Duke.
Awards include: 2014 Diners’ Choice Award for Top 100 Hot Spot Restaurants in America.
Rave review: “Service was excellent, food was even better! Myishia was our server and she was fabulous!!! Would def go again and will for sure dine again when visiting Chicago! The whole experience made our anniversary dinner perfect!!”
Mom quote: “‘People ask me all the time, ‘How do I I balance it all?’ and you know what? I don’t go into the day trying to balance everything. Some days work needs me more and some days family needs me more.”

9. Sur, West Hollywood, California
Owner: Lisa Vanderpump, mom to Pandora, 27, and Max, 22.
Awards include: 2014 Diners’ Choice Award for Top 100 Hot Spot Restaurants in America.
Rave review: “My wife and I had a memorable dinner at Sur. A wonderful restaurant, great atmosphere, delicious food, and, of course, world-class staff.”
Mom quote: “I’ve always had a lot of energy though. For years, my absolute focus was my husband and my children. Yet, now that they are older and they’ve left home, I feel I have an extraordinary amount of time that I hadn’t had.”

10. Talula’s Garden, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Owner: Aimee Olexy, mom to daughter Annalee Talula Rae.
Awards include: 2013 Diners’ Choice Award for Top 100 Best Overall Restaurants in America.
Rave review: “Every part of this restaurant is done 5 STARS! Food is spectacular, the waitstaff could not be any more accommodating, and the place — inside or out — is gorgeous!”
Mom quote: “[Being a mom and running a restaurant] is hard but rewarding, just like I imagine it would be for any other parent with a job. The restaurant schedule is typically unconventional, but Annalee and I work hard at creating a structured lifestyle to keep us on track.”

We’ve got in-depth interviews coming up this week with some of these talented and busy restaurateurs. Tune in tomorrow for more from the food world’s top moms!









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