Madison’s Short Stack Eatery was awarded the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award on Sept. 14 for their support and inclusion of the LGBT community.
The restaurant, famed for their variety of breakfast foods, hangs an LGBTQ and a transgender pride flag out their storefront window. Their LGBTQ flag is based off a design from Philadelphia, which adds a black and brown stripe to the flag to represent and support of people of color.
The LGBT Chamber started in an effort to promote fairness and inclusion in the business community. The chamber focuses specifically on Wisconsin businesses and hosts events and programs to help affiliated businesses.
Jason Rae, president and CEO of the chamber, said members are evaluated over a full year before an award is given.
“The purpose of the Allied Business of the Year award is to call out and recognize one business for the contributions they are making to build a more welcoming and inclusive business community here in Wisconsin,” Rae said. “We want to show our thanks and gratitude to those businesses that are committed to supporting the LGBT community.”
Short Stack’s Assistant General Manager, Janelle Bentley, is part of the restaurant’s Assisting Ability Team, a volunteer-based team focused on creating a sustainable community.
Bentley explained that the team works toward increasing sustainability practices such as composting and making sure Short Stack fits into the larger Madison community. Examples are inclusion in race equity, gender and LGBTQ.
Efforts to support a community is helpful to the chamber.
“We have seen our recipients each year feel inspired by the recognition that they go out and do even more to build a welcoming and inclusive community,” Rae said.
Other community-focused efforts from Short Stack include running monthly “Coffee Connections” meetings and joining the chamber’s Hospitality Committee.
Bentley said both groups strive to help employees be better allies with the community and to create safe spaces.
Bentley recognizes everyone has a different definition of a safe space, so the focus is on inclusivity, such as making Short Stack’s bathrooms inclusive to all. The restaurant is currently working to make the shift from “male” and “female” bathrooms to gender-neutral ones.
Each month Short Stack chooses one organization, typically a non-profit, to receive funds from the restaurant’s profit. Short Stack’s Organization of the Month has chosen candidates based on their efforts of community inclusivity of sexuality and race. One example is the organization Black Women Heal.
Upon receiving the Business of the Year award, Bentley said it felt nice to receive the acknowledgement. However, Bentley is not ready to stop progressing the company and hopes the award acts as a motivator.
“We got an award. Now how can we be better?” Bentley asked.
In the future, Bentley wants to make Short Stack’s “Better Together” event on Valentine’s Day a tradition. “Better Together” names drinks off of popular queer figures.
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Part of Bentley’s responsibilities at Short Stack is to hire employees. Bentley recognizes a lot of discrimination happens in the hiring process, and wants to make sure applicants are asked their preferred pronouns and receive emotional support while working at Short Stack.
“Be good allies inside and out,” Bentley said.
Additionally, Bentley is thankful to the Short Stack bosses, Alex Lindenmeyer and Sinéad McHugh. As two young women, Bentley said they set the tone for the community. Lindenmeyer and Sinéad volunteer extensively to support the community, Bentley said.
As a queer person of color, Bentley felt visible under Lindenmeyer and Sinéad’s management. Bentley said they create a space for identity and management, and are willing to change and learn new things.