The LEE Initiative is an acronym for Let’s Empower Employment.


Our Mission

  • Wherever we identify a need for more diversity and more equality in the restaurant industry, we will find creative and forward thinking solutions.
  • We will create small but impactful programs that make a real difference in the lives of the next generation of restaurant industry professionals.
  • We will help our community and inspire others to get involved, get active and give back.

Our Back Story

We started the LEE Initiative in Louisville, KY in 2015 after we saw a need for more diversity, more training, and more equality in our own restaurants. We wanted to redefine what it means to give back to our local community based on our research, our experiences and most of all, our instincts. We are in the business of hospitality. We are in the business of solving problems. We put the needs of our customers first. So why should it be any different when we approach the complex social issues that arise in today’s restaurant industry?

Our Programs

Today we proudly have two programs under the LEE Initiative. The Women Chefs Initiative, a six month leadership development program for women chefs and The Smoke & Soul Initiative, a 40 week immersive restaurant mentorship program for young adults.

Please browse through this site and start a conversation with us. Our programs exist because of the tremendous support of people in the community who share our vision of giving back for a better world.

Visit the site

“Lee is part of a small but growing coterie of restaurateurs using their businesses to directly affect social change.”