Westchester County's Most Accomplished Women Entrepreneurs
Meet 28 of the county's most successful, move innovative, most respected business women.
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Founder, CEO, Dinner in Hand
“When you run your own business,” says 58-year-old Candida Canfield, “you do everything.” Such is the case with her business, Dinner in Hand, an online dinner delivery and catering service she founded with about $60,000 in savings in February 2007.
In this case, “everything” includes marketing and administrative duties, sales, supervising parties, kitchen prep work, and, in the beginning, washing dishes. The married New Rochelle resident typically works 80 to 90 hours per week. “The toughest thing about my job is the physicality,” she says.
Though she always wanted to be an entrepreneur, Canfield took a circuitous route to get there. “This is my third career,” she says. After graduating
with a fine arts degree from Hofstra University, Candida tried acting. “I struggled, essentially working in the restaurant business for nine years in various front-of-the-house positions,” she says. But her business acumen shone elsewhere. She moved into newspaper ad sales in 1983, working for more than two decades at first the Daily News and then the Journal News, where she managed more than 100 employees and $60 million in ad revenues. In January 2005, Canfield got a job as an account manager at the B2B site Law.com. “I learned about Web-driven sales, a crucial element to my next endeavor.”
The idea for a dinner delivery service came to Canfield as she was taking Metro-North home one night. “My son called to ask, ‘What’s for dinner?,’” she recalls. “I’d had enough of thinking about what to cook for dinner. After working long hours, who wants to cook when you come home?”
Now, she’s delivering 60 to 100 meals to busy working parents every week. Executive Chef Amy Bach is the company’s only fulltime employee, and she, plus seven part-timers, work out of a commercial kitchen in New Rochelle.
“No business around here does exactly what I do, but any restaurant that delivers I count as competition,” she says. The business turned profitable three years after its founding, in 2010. Canfield made $20,000. The meal delivery service now accounts for only about 35 percent of the business’s annual revenues. “I learned quickly I had to diversify to keep on a fulltime chef,” she says. In the spring of 2008, Canfield started a catering department, which now accounts for 25 percent of revenues.
But the final and largest arm of her business—accounting for 40 percent of revenues—began in September 2008, when Canfield started a private school hot-lunch program. (And yes, even though she’s doling out lunches, the business is still called “Dinner in Hand.”) Clients include Thornton-Donovon in New Rochelle and Lyceum Kennedy in Ardsley and Manhattan. The school lunches have a healthy bent. “No chicken nuggets, breaded chicken, and the like,” Canfield says.
“It’s no surprise Candida is successful,” says Peter De Luca, owner of Vincent’s Meat Market on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, where Canfield is a patron. “She buys good products and is a hustler.”