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50 Great Ideas

50 Great Ideas

28. Support surcharge

An optional surcharge on customers’ bills at Daisies in Chicago helps pay for workers’ health insurance, adding up to about $100 a month per employee. The restaurant pays the rest, which helps recruit and retain talented employees.

50 Great Ideas

34. Bonuses for hourlies

In a package targeted at part-time employees, Chipotle announced it will award crew members bonuses of up to a month’s pay over the course of a year. The quarterly bonus program, which awards bonuses equal to a week’s pay to staff on teams that meet certain sales, cash flow and throughput targets, is designed to help attract and retain top workers.

Sandwich chain Jersey Mike’s has a lingo that not only helps staffers but also makes loyal guests feel like insiders. Diners can ask for “CPR” for cherry pepper relish, “light juice” for light oil and vinegar or for their sub to be “gutted” if they don’t want all the bread.

Upscale-casual chain Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants rewards general managers and executive kitchen managers with free BMW leases for three years based on their ability to develop staffers. At a time when good labor—especially at the management level—is hard to come by, the program encourages managers to develop and mentor quality employees and build new leaders, even as they work on the day-to-day business.

“Social media needs to be personal. I’ve seen voices that don’t match the brand,” said Donnie Madia, partner of One Off Hospitality in Chicago, at the National Restaurant Association Show. The in-house social media experts for the multiconcept operator develop feeds for each individual concept, following the three C’s: consistency, content and community.

Customization options continue to expand. Jose Andres’ Mercado Little Spain in Hudson Yards in New York offers a gazpacho bar displaying several varieties in pitchers set on ice. Customers choose their variety, it’s poured into a cup and they get a choice of garnishes.

Inspire Brands, the parent company of Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic Drive-In and Arby’s, fired up a new website that details the chains’ economic and social impact on each state where they operate. The site shows how much its brands donated to philanthropic causes state by state and nationally, as well as how many jobs are provided and recently created in each state by its restaurants, how much economic activity is generated, how many franchisees are located in the market and how many restaurants have been built.

Third-party delivery drivers are the in-person representation of a restaurant brand, even though they don’t work for that concept. So restaurants should think about winning those drivers over: Make them feel welcome and treat them as guests, said Skip Kimpel, VP of IT for Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, at the Restaurant Innovation Summit.

Instead of having trainees sit in a back room for eight hours, Golden Corral breaks lessons into short shifts. After a trainee watches a few of these 15-minute “microbursts of learning,” the computer locks them out, forcing them to do hands-on training with a staffer.

Mexican fast casual Moe’s Southwest Grill moved to simplify delivery orders, limiting the menu to the most popular items and reducing the ingredient options to 12 from the 21 available in-store. Moe’s also eliminated sides from the delivery menu and got rid of tacos, because corn tortillas didn’t hold heat.

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