Some people spend years searching for their purpose. Others step into their grandparent's kitchen and find their purpose there. At sixteen-years-old, Anne-Marie Coulon began working in her grandparent's restaurant, The Belgian Lion, as a hostess and eventually worked her way into the kitchen. After The Belgian Lion, Anne-Marie honed her skills in a few restaurants and her own catering company, but owning her own restaurant remained the goal. In 2014, after tireless searching, Anne-Marie found the perfect location to open Little Lion Cafe with her sisters. We sat down with Anne-Marie at the always busy Little Lion to talk about life in the restaurant industry, her idea of success, and FOOD.
Did you always want to own a restaurant?
What has been the biggest obstacle as a woman in your industry?
I think the reason I do own a restaurant so young is because the restaurant industry is so male-dominated and because I was working for my family I wasn't always taken seriously. Because it is such a male dominated industry I always say ‘gosh I think I'd be taken more seriously if I had like sleeve tattoos or something’, but I think I had to kind of find my own niche. A lot of my male chef friends have completely different idols like I love the Martha Stewarts and the Ina Gartens. So I think I had to realize that my goals weren't necessarily my peers’ goals and that's okay.
What has been the biggest advantage as a woman in your industry?
I do feel that men and women have different strengths, and I think that women are good at multitasking. Owning a restaurant I have to get the food out, answer the emails, pay the rent checks, if the grease trap overflows; I'm the one cleaning it, etc. I think because I'm a woman I'm really good at multitasking. I'm not positive it's because I'm a woman, but that's an idea that I have.
What does true success mean for you?
True success to me means being happy in every single thing I do. I think people get so caught up in the next thing. Like making more money or wanting to travel. I think that you're successful when you're mopping the floors with a smile on your face. So for me, this is a hard job, but if I'm happy that's success.
How do you want to be remembered?
My grandmother was a chef too and once I was asking her if I should do something that's going to have a bigger place in the world and she said "You know making food for people is a big place in the world. Sometimes people are having a hard day and the only opportunity they have is having somewhere to go eat." I think for me I want to have a community where people can come and have good food, and if they're having a bad day, help them have a good day. So just making people happy.