Monday June 05, 2017

How Jen Agg became a successful restaurateur on her own terms

Restaurateur Jen Agg opens up about being the boss in a male-dominated industry in her memoir.

Restaurateur Jen Agg opens up about being the boss in a male-dominated industry in her memoir. (Nick Koza/Doubleday)

Listen 13:10

Jen Agg knows that being the boss in a male-dominated industry isn't always easy and her memoir, I Hear She's a Real Bitch, captures that sentiment right in its title. Now a successful restaurateur, Agg is the owner of a handful of hip spots including The Black Hoof and Grey Gardens in Toronto and Agrikol in Montreal. Her memoir explores the ups and downs of life in the restaurant industry and how she fought her way through its patriarchal ranks. 

How her memoir got its name

It's a tongue and cheek way to upend the idea of why women in power or women who achieve success are perceived that way. I'm not just trying to say, "Why vilify me for running my businesses the same way men have been running theirs forever?" The truth is I don't necessarily do that all the time. I run my business my own way.

Her brand of snark isn't for everyone

I think a lot of times people take me or my Twitter feed a little to seriously. Often it's tongue firmly planted in cheek. Even though I might be yelling about something, I try to do it in an entertaining way, but some people aren't going to like it. "I'm too much." What does "too much" even mean?​

"Bro culture" isn't just for men

Women can be bros too. It gets complicated when your raison d'être is feminism and being a part of raising women up, then talking about how we can also be our own worst enemies. It's a very difficult conversation. I talk about it all the time in my private life and with my friends, but talking about it publicly requires such delicacy. At the end of the day, if we could all get together and stop criticizing each other's feminism, we could put a dent in that patriarchy. 

Jen Agg's comments have been edited and condensed.