Finding Success in the Restaurant Industry

By Jane Houseal | Photo courtesy CC Jacob

Find a group or a company that you believe in, and work from there,” says CC Jacob.

Jacob, who is art director for Food Fight Restaurant Group, the Madison-based restaurant group with 17 Madison establishments, does everything from creating logos to designing menus for the company. The details that make many of Food Fight’s eateries special can be credited to her artistic touches.

Food Fight’s diverse portfolio of restaurants includes casual dining spot Canteen and the more upscale Cento, among others. Jacob personally worked on the design and development for Canteen, helping to craft its vibrant atmosphere.

She says behind Food Fight’s success is a team with incredible devotion to the job and each other.

“It is really easy to show up every day and work hard and do my best to provide a product that [Food Fight] needs to help with their success,” Jacob says. “They also felt invested in me and wanted me to succeed, so it was a mutually-ensured success.”

Restaurant ownership in general is still a male-dominated industry. And although Food Fight was founded by Monty Schiro and Peder Moren back in 1994, current CEO Caitlin Suemnicht has worked for the company for 21 years. She started with Food Fight as dining room manager at the now-closed Ocean Grill. (Suemnicht recently welcomed a baby girl.)

“We focus on inclusivity — it is something that is important to us,” Jacob says.

Jacob hopes that in the future, the rest of the food and beverage industry catches up and establishes more female-lead teams. Although some could view a restaurant’s logo or menu design as one- off details, Jacob sees her role with Food Fight much more holistically than that.

“My hope is that through the company, with my support, we leave the community a little better, a little happier than when we found it,” Jacob says. “We give people spaces where they can celebrate their life, whether it be their birthday or just a Tuesday. I think food in general is something of a celebration.”

What is the most memorable moment in your career?

“When I moved from being a designer up to being an art director. I felt that it was a stepping stone that was important for me to reach and I felt really good when I reached it.”

 

Read more from our “What Women Want at Work” feature here.

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