The founder and creator of the Single Girl’s Guide to Eating Out encourages women to dine out confidently, helping you worry a little less about where to go and a little more about what to order. Alone in a hotel room in a town she was unfamiliar with, Liz Martin had her mind set on venturing out for dinner and a drink.
“I was Googling TripAdvisor and I remember thinking realistically, the only way to get there is to walk,” Martin said. “But I (had) no idea if it’s safe for me to walk there.”
This brought up another thought: Martin wished she knew, on a personal level, what it would feel like once she got to her destination. She wanted a system that broke it down for women — perhaps a guide that rated venues with a focus on women’s safety. She ended up creating her own.
The Single Girl’s Guide to Eating Out was born from a night of apprehension and hesitation but hopes to put an end to some of those feelings. Empowering women with the information they need can be the difference between a fun night out and an uncomfortable experience.
“One person who doesn’t have to experience sexual harassment would make this entire site worth it,” Martin said. “Especially with what’s happening in the world right now. There’s a global recognition that women deserve a respect they haven’t gotten.”
Customers aren’t the only ones benefiting from the guide — restaurants get a glimpse into positive changes they can make for their women patrons. As someone who works in and around this industry, Martin wants to open the conversation about how we can better support women.
It can be as simple as having more women on staff. To put it simply, there’s safety in numbers.
“Visibility matters. As someone who fits into different minority groups, there is an emotional response to visibility. In this instance, there is a conscious level of support you show with that visibility,” Martin said. “If you want women to be at ease, there should be other women to come approach to get out of an uncomfortable situation.”
When it comes to reviews, being fair is crucial, so Martin has developed a system that combines the subjective and the finite, and grading is broken down by the five categories with specific questions that fall under each area. She has hand-selected individuals she can trust, even having
a reviewer visit a venue separately from her, so
they can compare notes. She’s also willing to reconsider a review, as the guide understands there can be an off night and wants to have an open dialogue with venues.
“In life, we tend to criticize but don’t support active changes. I don’t want this to be only a criticism,” Martin said.
She believes her system points out problems when they are there but also supports and engages venues that are willing to make changes and fix issues. Working together, the guide and venues can be proactive in the environment they create for women and, hopefully, spur more nights out.
THE 5 CATEGORIES
Each review features a main strength, weakness and the bottom line: Would you return?
This causes the most concern among women. Are you tipsy and must walk in the dark, alone, back to your car? How far away is the parking lot? Is it well-lit and visible from the venue?
This is aimed at what it feels like physically in the space. Is there a conscious thought to the layout of the space and how it affects customers? Does the bar have a dedicated ordering line or will people be getting in your space to get a drink to encourage conversation?
This is the best attempt at opinion placed into a measurable scale. What is the vibe of the place? Is it comfortable? Are there female workers? Did you interact with management? What does it feel like for you as a woman? Would you come alone?
LGBT AND DIVERSITY
This was personal for Martin as she identifies as LGBT. If you show up here as a member of a minority, are you going to feel that when you’re in that space? This section has a broader diversity focus. Martin hopes to release in Chicago, New York and L.A. and those reviews will include perspectives from women of color. What does the diversity feel like? Do you notice an effort to bring diversity into the space or is it one set of people?
Here’s the overarching summary section. If you want to forego the nit-picky aspects, this is the section with the broadest questions. Overall, is there thought put into women in the venue?
Find out where your next worry-free night could be at singlegirlguide.com.