From Melissa Doolin-Koehne, Executive Director, Sales and Industry Relations, Black Box Intelligence

​Everywhere you turn there is another story. There is simply no escaping the sadness overtaken the restaurant industry and the staggering number of jobs, careers and lives impacted. I was personally having such a hard time, I decided one day that the only way for me to deal with this sadness is to just focus on the good I could find. Growing up and spending my career in the restaurant industry has taught me that the soul of our industry is providing. Providing meals, jobs, a safe place to relax, celebrate, love. We are natural providers. In my effort to look for and focus on good news, I created a LinkedIn group called “Some Good News,”  where we can share the best stories of how we are providing for our communities, employees and customers.

I then searched for companies that have not only not only been providers of good during this crisis but have a track record of doing well by doing good. Black Box Intelligence™ has been honoring leaders and companies who have built a legacy of providing at our annual conference for over 20 years. We have showcased them as role models for us all, so many great leaders and companies. When I first read that our Legacy Award Winner Kent Taylor, CEO of Texas Roadhouse was one of the first CEOs to give up his salary to help his employees, I was not surprised. He has spent decades putting his team first, providing not only a very profitable and successful business, but a business that takes care of their own.

“We treat each other like family, and we take care of each other like family.”

In 2005, Texas Roadhouse created their own 501 C3 called Andy’s Outreach. I was able to talk to the full-time team that manages the non-profit about the program and how they are managing right now during the COVID-19 impact. Since the inception of Andy’s Outreach, they have granted $14.6 million in assistance to over 10,000 employees. When asked about the secret to such a successful employee led campaign the answer was unanimous. “We treat each other like family, and we take care of each other like family.” This really comes from the leadership of the company down to restaurant team members.  The entire senior team contributes significantly to the program and that commitment has not waned even when salaries have been cut. There is a very high percentage of team members that contribute and that ranges anywhere from $.50 -$1.00 per pay period to larger contributions from managing partners and executive team members. The funds are all voluntary and the company provides information about the impact of Andy’s Outreach to every new team member during orientation. It is ingrained in the culture of taking care of each other.

In response to COVID-19 the team shortened the grant process so they could help follow Roadies quickly. In response so far, they have granted over $567,000 to over 900 employees. The leadership team is dedicated to make sure they continue to keep the Andy’s Outreach funds available to those who need the help.

I was also not surprised that a company that treats their employees like family is also pivoting towards success in a time when so many are struggling to keep the doors open. Kent Taylor penned a letter to his fellow Roadies and customers that sums up the success in just a few short paragraphs. Kent and the Texas Roadhouse team are true providers and will not only will survive this but thrive with loyal team members and guests. As Kent describes Texas Roadhouse so well “We are just a people company that happens to serve steaks.” Imagine if we all took this business approach.

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