How to Run a LGBTQ+ Friendly Restaurant

LGBTQ+ inclusivity in your front and back of house


How can your restaurant be a more inclusive space for LGBTQI+ employees and customers? To answer this question, our team at Choco has put together a series of action points and resources for chefs and managers to rethink their business.

In the US, the restaurant and foodservice industry is the second largest employer, accounting for more than 15 million workers, including LGBTQI+ employees. Despite the growing awareness from businesses towards LGBTQI+ issues during Pride Month, discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation and identity are still present in many industries, including restaurants.

Pride month is only one part of the year and it’s easy to post on social media without doing the work of making your workplace equitable. Take care of your employees, listen for the role LGBTQ+ people and have played in your community, and foster a healthy work environment that is welcoming to ALL people.

Here are some action points to make your restaurant LGBTQI+ friendly:

Promote LGBTQI+ leadership

Previously, we highlighted some examples of successful stories of lesbian, gay, bi, trans, or queer chefs that made their way in the culinary world and restaurant industry. As a manager, you can always find great employees in your community to support LGBTQI+ representation and leadership within your team.

A good way to meet the right candidate is updating your work description into one that explicitly encourages LGBTQ chefs, servers, or managers to join your team. When writing a job description for your restaurant make sure to say that your business welcomes people from every background, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and identity, and calls out all members from different communities.

Set up a policy

Train your staff for diversity and set up a no discrimination policy as your restaurants’ mission statement. Make sure to maintain and update this program over time and take action whenever your employees or teammates experience discrimination of any kind, internally or with customers.

Protect trans people

In the US, transgender food servers are more likely to experience harassment at their workplace, as well as a wider pay gap. You should adopt a zero-tolerance policy for jokes and derogatory comments, repeated or intentional use of wrong names and pronouns, invasive and disrespectful personal questions to and about trans employees and customers.

Beware of your language

Ask your staff which pronouns they prefer and make sure that they are aware of the importance of gender-inclusive language. This means "speaking and writing in a way that does not discriminate against a particular sex, social gender or gender identity, and does not perpetuate gender stereotypes".

Don't forget about Google attributes

Add “LGBTQ-friendly” and “Transgender Safe Space” attributes on Google My Business, following the official guidelines. This can help your restaurant be more visible to your local community and not just to customers, but also to other gay, lesbian, trans, and queer chefs, managers, bartenders, and food servers that might want to join your team.

Consider gender-neutral bathrooms

This topic doesn’t only concern LGBTQI+ people, but also parents and caretakers accompanying a person of different sex. Different signs and catchphrases that are used in restaurants to mark bathrooms as gender neutral are available online.

Partner up

Connect with local and national LGBTQI+ organizations. Resources like TransCanWork or HAAS JR. can help you and your team dive into the matter of LGBTQI+ inclusivity and find direct ways to empower your local community. Your restaurant can also reserve a space in your front of house to expose or sell arts and crafts from local LGBTQI+ artists and help them promote their work. Finally, you can support LGBTQI+ vendors in your area including farmers cooperatives and small businesses.