Peter Berlinski, a longtime chief editor of Restaurant Business and a co-founder of the Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF), died last week from undisclosed causes nine days before his 73rd birthday.
Berlinski edited the magazine in the 1980s, when the publication reigned as the leading title of business-to-business publisher Bill Communications.
In 1989, he decided to run a cover story on women in the industry. Twenty-seven leaders—at the time, nearly the entire population of top-level female chain executives—were invited to meet in Chicago for interviews and a photo shoot. A freewheeling discussion in the host hotel about common problems and issues convinced the group that their impromptu forum should become a formal, permanent one. They decided to create an organization to promote the upward mobility of women in foodservice.
Their group was christened the Women’s Foodservice Forum, and would quickly grow into one of the industry’s largest and most powerful advocacy groups. At the group’s most recent annual convention, about 3,000 women and “righteous brothers,” as male participants would come to be known, came together to focus on the issues that galvanized Berlinski’s cover subjects in 1989.
Berlinski left the publication not long afterward to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, focusing on the private-label industry. His role in creating the WFF was not forgotten, and he was called back for the organization’s 20th anniversary for an onstage reunion with the group’s founding mothers.
Berlinski was retired at the time of his death.
He became a figure in the industry after a varied life that included a Catholic education that had him thinking at one point about becoming a priest. He also served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
He is survived by three children—Michael, Brian and Alison—and five grandchildren.