(Photo: The Brooklyn Hospital Center)
Throughout Women’s History Month, we’re featuring some of the women who make the Greene Grape the amazing place it is. The Greene Grape family of businesses is woman-powered, both historically and currently, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t shine a well-deserved spotlight on at least a few of these grape women.
This week, we’re chatting with Greene Grape founder and owner Amy Bennett, lawyer turned entrepreneur. Amy is our fearless leader here at Greene Grape Wine & Spirits, Provisions, and Annex. Her business acumen paired with her high standards make her a powerful force in the food world.
What inspired you to open Provisions?
I was inspired to open Greene Grape Provisions when I was a young mom learning to cook. I wanted to learn how to sear scallops. I bought some at the local grocery and tried again and again but could never get a nice brown sear on them, which I chalked up to my poor cooking skills. Turns out that because they are sold by weight, some stores soak them to absorb water. Meaning you can’t really get a sear on them. That’s when I realized that access to quality ingredients is key. Try roasting one of our air-chilled chickens instead of a water-chilled one—you’ll see the difference pretty quick.
What’s been your experience as a woman in the food industry?
When I first started out, I asked my refrigeration case salesperson for a female grocery mentor. He’d been in the business over 40 years and at the time, he couldn’t think of a single female-run store. It’s been an adventure, from meat salespeople who shorted me and hoped I wouldn’t notice, to outside vendors trying (and failing) to undermine my female managers, with competitors underestimating me all the while.
On the plus side, people who are willing to work with or for a female owner without bias or baloney tend to be quality people. I’ve been fortunate enough to have an amazing landlord who saw my business grow up on the block and believed in me from the beginning. But I’m most grateful for the amazing employees past and present who have kept The Grape in business for 15 years (In retail! In NYC!) and who are living the values we promote: Being kind, considerate, helpful and empathetic to our customers, vendors and each other.
What is your favorite product on our shelves?
This is like picking a favorite child, which I refuse to do! They’re all amazing in different ways. As a working mother, I could not do without our grab-n-go kale caesar and beet salad for me and our house made mac and cheese for the kids. Recently for a special occasion, I had our dry-aged bone-in grass-fed ribeye steaks cooked to perfection and they were mind-blowingly delicious.. My go-tos in produce are Gotham Greens lettuces and Square Root basil, which I combine with our house made mozzarella, chopped fresh tomato and our house made sweet italian sausage over pasta for an easy school night dinner.
Who is your Women’s History Month shero?
It’s hard to choose just one, but definitely on the list: Sonia Sotomayor. That might come across as political, but I feel such a kinship with her. She came from nothing, got over feeling less-than, and now presides over the highest court in the land. She also advocated for others along the way and was not afraid to stand up to the status quo. I had the honor of interviewing with her when she was a SDNY judge and her energy is infectious.