My love for the restaurant business runs deep. Having spent most of my career working cross-functionally in the industry, I can’t get enough of the different concepts, innovation, partnerships but especially the people. It’s because of the people that the toll of COVID-19 weighs so heavily on my mind and heart. In a news cycle where we are flooded with bad news, let’s not lose sight of the goodness we are seeing amongst our leaders in the restaurant industry. Working with and getting to know some incredible franchise operators over the years, I’ve come to see how important the communities they operate in are to them. Providing first jobs, supporting local schools and offering a place to gather after a long day or to celebrate a milestone event, restaurants are integral to the fabric of our communities.

What is keeping me inspired during this unprecedented time, however, are the acts of Servant LeadershipServant Leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more caring world. I have had the good fortune to work with two of the best Servant Leaders, Emil Brolick and Greg Creed, during my time at Yum! Brands. From both, I came to truly appreciate how a restaurant culture can empower franchisees to make a big impact in the communities in which they operate.

During these uncertain times, I am grateful to see franchisers and owners not only thinking about their businesses, but their employees and the people in their communities. It’s wonderful to see eateries:

Providing for their employees:

ChipotleTacoBell and Starbucks extending benefits to hourly workers. Texas Roadhouse co-founder, W. Kent Taylor, is giving up his bonus and base salary this year to pay his chain’s workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Supporting non-profits:

 The Dunkin’ Brands Joy in Childhood Foundation announced that it will activate $1.25 million in emergency grants for nonprofits on the front lines of COVID-19 response.

Leveraging the power of partnerships:

Over 30 million children in the United States received free and reduced lunch. Concerned about the impact of school closures, Luna Grill is offering a Good Card. With every $5 gift card, Luna Grill will donate a meal to a child in need. To promote and fulfill this donation they are leveraging partnerships, pulling in iHeart Radio and the San Diego Food Bank. Panera Breads announced a partnership with U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Children’s Hunger Alliance to provide fresh, wholesome meals to children in need in the state of Ohio with an eye towards scaling nationwide.

Repurposing their dining rooms:

In the ultimate pivot, James Beard Award-winning Chef Nancy Silverton has turned Los Angeles based Mozza into a relief center for restaurant-industry professionals who’ve suffered a recent layoff or reduction in hours due to the virus. Silverton is offering daily meals and basic supplies.

Even though the doors of restaurants may be closed, leaders are not sitting down. Thank you for what you’re doing to serve our communities beyond food. Tag a servant leader today and don’t forget to thank our team members at the drive-thru . #rallyforrestaurants

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