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Bar Louie is offering sabbaticals to GMs

The key staffers will get a three-week sabbatical every three years, part of a new benefits program at the gastropub chain.

General managers at Bar Louie will get a three-week sabbatical every three years along with an annual vacation subsidy and other financial perks under the gastropub chain's new benefits program.

The initiative is a response to the restaurant industry's ongoing struggle to hire and keep workers, and is aimed squarely at retaining the GMs at its 70-plus locations, Bar Louie said Tuesday.

To entice them to stay, the Dallas-based chain is offering a variety of benefits unusual for the restaurant industry. At the time of their hire, Bar Louie GMs will be eligible for:

  • A three-week sabbatical every three years.
  • Education support.
  • An annual vacation subsidy.
  • Performance bonuses. 
  • A $500 quarterly wellness allowance to spend on things like gym memberships or child care.

It was unclear whether the sabbatical will be paid. A representative for the company had not responded to a question from Restaurant Business as of publication time.

Over time, GMs would be able to earn profit-sharing bonuses and choose not to work closing shifts that end at 2 a.m.

After they have worked three years in the position or their location generates $4.5 million or more in annual sales, they'll qualify to become executive general managers, yielding more profit-sharing and flexible scheduling options.

"Bar Louie understands that our employees have lives outside of work," said Bar Louie CEO Tom Fricke in a statement. "We want to address the stigma that restaurants are a labor-intensive industry that leaves little time outside of the day-to-day operations. This isn’t a hiring campaign – this is about transforming the culture of our industry."

Retaining employees is a key concern for the industry, which as of December remained more than 650,000 workers short of where it was before the pandemic. Meanwhile, restaurant workers continue to quit their jobs at historically high rates. The so-called Great Resignation has forced restaurants to raise wages and offer better benefits in hopes of improving the employment proposition. 

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