San Diego, February 2018

It has been nearly a year since I last posted. Not for lack of anything to say. Just because there has been so much to say and I don’t know where to start.

This weekend, I went to a conference in San Diego for a program I’m enrolled in, the Team, Management, and Leadership Program through Landmark Worldwide. The conference completed on Sunday afternoon around happy hour, so we all headed over to the bar for some drinks. Afterwards on my way back to my room to get ready for dinner, I stopped a couple sitting at the fire pits facing the Marina and asked to bum a cigarette. And thus began a deeply inspiring conversation with two remarkable and open young people with a passion for the restaurant industry.

Over this past year, I have become increasingly determined to see transformation in the restaurant industry. From the issues around unfair wages, to immigration, to sexual harassment and racism I have become more concerned with how to go “behind the kitchen door” to talk openly and candidly about what could be possible for employees and employers and even customers if we were to address these issues head on. While the rest of the world is having this discussion, how would our industry look if we could join that discussion?

K. and D. work for a major restaurant franchise in Dallas and both were so generous and open about sharing their thoughts on what it has been like for them in their professions. A  few things became really clear: 1) they both love the restaurant industry and wouldn’t want to do anything else. They have found their calling and love what they do. 2) They are committed to the development of the teams they work with. 3) They were inspired to see changes AND some things still work.

We talked about the closeness of teams of restaurant workers and how that can lead to inappropriate behavior being misinterpreted. We talked about tipped workers and what motivates them. We talked about how some changes in structure (eliminating tips) may not achieve the goal of transforming culture, but just result in the most skilled servers leaving for higher wage jobs. We talked about how the public doesn’t have the perspective that restaurant workers can be professionals, that it isn’t a career, but a job.

I don’t know how long we talked, the time just flew by. We covered so much, these strangers and me, and I am so grateful for their deeply thoughtful opinions. As I begin to tackle these issues and look at workable solutions, I find myself really hungry for such engaged conversations. My intention is to transform this space from  blog to a forum for active engagement and thought leadership.

Please join me and keep reading>