Elizabeth Lessner is the owner of Betty’s Family of Restaurants in Columbus, Ohio, which includes a lineup of some of the city’s most-happening fun spots—Betty’s Fine Food and Spirits, The Surly Girl Saloon, Tip Top Kitchen and Cocktails, and Dirty Frank’s Hot Dogs. As a business owner, Elizabeth is all about social entrepreneurship, civic engagement and connecting to the community and environment on a real level. She empowers her nearly 150 employees with the belief that every person can make a difference. That means hiring individuals, including entrepreneurs, musicians, artists and creative types, who understand the goals and mission of the company, but bring their own unique perspectives to the table.
Elizabeth is also engaged in numerous philanthropic efforts for the neighborhood and community that support her restaurants. Along with her managers, she participates in boards and committees that address issues related to sustainability and green living. She is involved with neighborhoods and groups that help with job creation, training and development. And not to be overlooked, the company sponsors its own all-day rock festival with all proceeds benefiting the Columbus Music Co-Op. Beyond that, Betty’s donates around $50,000 in gift certificates, food and cash to local charities each year.
If you’re out and about in the Capital City, day or night, be sure to put these restaurants on your list of stops. Until then, here are some thoughts from Elizabeth:
What talent do you wish you had?
Elizabeth: I wish I were more organized!
What is your dream vacation?
Elizabeth: Northern Michigan in the summer. Fresh produce everywhere, Lake Michigan and lots of big pine trees—my own heaven.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another woman?
Elizabeth: I’m not sure if it was a woman that originally said this, but it was a trusted woman mentor that instilled this idea in me: We create our own reality.
Assuming you were unexpectedly given a block of free time to do as you wish, how would you choose to spend that time?
Elizabeth: I would travel to another region of the United States.
What advice do you have for women?
Elizabeth: Find clarity about what it is you are seeking, and go after it. If you don’t have a clear picture about what you want, you will never get it.