A pair of local entrepreneurs have been named to a list of the top “Women to Watch” in Iowa’s hospitality industry.
The Iowa Restaurant Association named Washington’s Lorraine Williams and Fairfield’s Katie Greenfield to its inaugural 40 “Women to Watch” list earlier this summer. Williams is co-founder of Dodici’s Café in Washington, a restaurant that has earned wide acclaim for its international cuisine. Greenfield is co-founder of Jefferson County Ciderworks, a cidery that has already won numerous awards in its first four years of existence.
“Women are building meaningful careers in every segment of the restaurant industry and the numbers back that up. Fifty-eight percent of food service supervisors and 49 percent of food service managers are women, far above the averages in nearly every other industry,” said Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association, in a news release. “From restaurant ownership, to full-time sales and management, to flexible-hour, part-time positions, women are charting their own paths in the hospitality sector.”
Williams said it was unexpected and exciting to learn she had made the list of the 40 Women to Watch.
“I work really hard in my business,” she said. “It’s fun to make a difference, and it’s fun to be noticed in a small community like Washington. I like knowing that we have brought something to Iowa that makes a difference and enriches people’s lives.”
Dodici Café opened on Dec. 31, 2004. Dodici means 12 in Italian. Williams’s husband, Alessandro Scipioni, is a native of Italy, and Williams spent 30 years there herself. Those two, plus Williams’s niece Tsalika Rich, co-founded the business. Though the restaurant is certainly influenced by their background, it is not exclusively Italian. Williams said the owners try hard to market it as an international eatery.
Williams and her business have received numerous accolades over the years. A little over a year after it opened, Dodici was named Washington’s Business of the Year in 2006. Williams was named a Woman of Influence by the Corridor Business Journal in 2012.
One of her favorite things is getting “love letters” sent by people who enjoyed their meal or their stay in her bed and breakfast so much they felt compelled to write.
“I’ve never written to a restaurant before,” Williams said. “I’m glad they take the time to write to us.”
Williams said she hopes her success in the business world can serve as an example to other women.
“Sometimes you start a business and you don’t know what you’re really getting into,” she said. “You have to believe in what you’re doing. I knew this is what I was supposed to be doing.”
Williams said one of her favorite things is bringing attention to her community.
“Through this honor, people notice that [our] small town is doing so much to improve itself and offer great amenities. I love to show it off!” she said.
Greenfield said she was very surprised and deeply honored when she learned of making the list a few weeks ago in late July. A Fairfield native, Greenfield worked in restaurants in high school and during college.
“I loved it so much I considered a career as a professional chef,” she said. “I didn’t end up doing it, though.”
After graduating from Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Greenfield moved to Tanzania, Africa, for a year, where she ran a restaurant in the city of Dar es Salaam. She returned to the United States and lived in Los Angeles for a few years, continuing to work in the restaurant industry as a hostess and later as a financial manager.
In 2015, she and her husband Jesse Narducci, another Fairfield native, moved back to Fairfield to start a cider company, which they named Jefferson County Ciderworks. When the couple opened their cidery and tap room in a little red barn just outside town, they sold cider and beer.
“Very quickly, we realized we wanted to have a food program,” Greenfield said. “At the time, we couldn’t afford to retrofit the building to fit a kitchen. We had the idea to buy a food truck, which is a fully operational kitchen, and even bigger than a lot of kitchens out there.”
The business added a food truck outside its tap room, which it operates in the summer. In the winter, it closes the food truck and alters its menu to cater to an indoors crowd.
In 2018, the business purchased a 12,000 square-foot facility in Fairfield to increase its production. It has since quadrupled its sales.
“We’re still not at capacity,” Greenfield said. “We were cramped for space before, and now that we’ve moved production, we’re just playing catch-up because we have so much demand now.”
Greenfield said the business wants to focus on growing within its 12,000 square foot facility before thinking about expanding into other cities. She and Narducci want to add more music events at their tap room, and plan to build a bandstand there, too.
Greenfield said she worked with a number of incredible women in Los Angeles.
“I had a great opportunity to be around forward-thinking, inspirational and driven women,” she said. “One of them started a huge craft beer program before that was popular. That taught me that if you have a vision and an idea, you can push it forward.”