Establishments: Betty’s Fine Food & Spirits, opened 2001; Surly Girl Saloon, 2005; Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails, 2007; Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace, July 2009
Headquarters: Columbus, Ohio
What she’s done: After waiting tables for years and finding herself back at her parents place in Columbus, Lessner opened her own restaurant, Betty's. It was the kind of place she and her girlfriends would like to hang out in, with its ’40s-era pin-up ambience, friendly well-lit bar and fun, comfort-food menu. More “great bars that serve good food” followed.
Why we like her: Because she’s used her platform as a successful business owner to support personal ideals that include better public transportation and green business practices—as the current chairman of the Central Ohio Restaurant Association, she works closely with other operators to advocate and educate on such issues as source reduction and recycling. She also developed the audit that is used to award restaurants with the city’s new Green Spot designation.
What’s next: In addition to keeping her eyes peeled for new business opportunities—she’s got an idea for a Philly-style Italian-American concept, tentatively called Tramp’s, and sees more room for the popularly priced Frank’s—Lessner would love to help market Columbus as a culinary and arts tourist destination.