Meet the leading ladies of some of the city’s top restaurants

The #MeToo movement has sparked a massive cultural reckoning for gendered abuses of authority across industries—restaurants included. As we seek inspiration on how to best move forward, it helps to look to women who have achieved success in spite of systemic challenges. These six female leaders in restaurant operations refused to let any adversity slow them down on their diverse journeys to management. What unifies them is passion, initiative, and an aptitude to lead.

Cannon Porter, General Manager of Beatrix {Multiple locations}

At first, the restaurant industry was just a means of supplementing Cannon Porter’s (above) college studies. She came to realize, however, how much it actually meant to her. It wasn’t just a means to an end, it was her calling. “As time went on, I became more passionate about the industry and found myself thriving on its energy,” she admits. “I was drawn to so many things like the fast-paced nature, the importance of customer service, and the creativity with food.”

After working nine years at Texas Roadhouse, Cannon made the move to Chicago and helped open Beatrix River North in 2013, as well as Ema in 2016. As she continued to move up in her career, Porter drew strength from those who helped pave the path before her.

“Actually, I had a female general manager when I first started in the industry. She always believed in me, appreciated my work ethic, and trusted my decisions. She simply paved the way for me in a positive way, allowing me to succeed at a young age—something I’m really grateful for.”

Today, Cannon continues to work with the Beatrix team, recently opening Beatrix’s third location in Fulton Market. Cannon offers this bit of advice to the up and coming: “I think that once you know what you’re passionate about, you should try and make yourself known in that area as the expert. Find your niche and expertise, brand yourself, and be the leader on the topic. If you can do that, your hard work and passion will show through.”