Boston restaurateur Barbara Lynch plans to transfer ownership of her restaurant group Barbara Lynch Gruppo to her employees so she can focus on two new ventures: a women's bank and a dehydrated vegetable product line called Made. She announced her intentions during an interview onstage at the Cherry Bombe Jubilee conference on Saturday in New York.
“I’m never going to be done working, but I’m ready for the next stage,” she told moderator Kristen Kish, explaining the move and her need for “an exit strategy.” She wants to transfer ownership to ensure her employees make more money for the work that they do and to keep her from obsessing over the details of the business.
Lynch compared trying to launch new projects while still dealing with the day to day of running a restaurant empire to “a shower head that’s full of shit and only one piece of water is coming out,” adding that she has no desire to open another brick and mortar or create another menu. “How many times can I create a new menu? It’s like creating a new opera,” she said.
Lynch said she wants to build a bank for women with free checking, no ATM fees, and an educational element that will teach women how to invest, build and grow businesses, and manage their finances. A handful of banks catering exclusively to women opened previously in the United States (back when women couldn’t even open checking accounts without their husbands) but were bought by other banks or shifted focus. (Interestingly, the first women’s bank in New York opened up in the former Le Pavilion restaurant in 1975, with the vault in the wine cellar.)
She’d even like to set aside funds for female lobbyists, saying, “I can’t fight for Mexico, but I can fight for women.” Lynch is still finishing up the mission statement now and will then move on to the charter. Given the size of the undertaking and the finances needed to launch a bank, expect this to be a long simmering project.
While the bank is in its nascent stages, Lynch has been working on the dehydrated vegetable line — affordable boxes of dehydrated vegetables that can be reconstituted with boiling water — for years, first mentioning it back in 2014. Right now, it’s in use in the Denver school system but she aims to offer it broadly, envisioning it in hospital vending machines in addition to retail stores.
Lynch and her team are currently looking for a facility large enough so they can make the product at scale and are going through another round of packaging work.
Lynch was in New York to promote her new memoir, Out of Line. Her restaurant group includes seven independently owned restaurants and a restaurant project with Boston’s Eataly.