Each year, Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K) (Transforming Data into Knowledge) hosts the Global Best Practices Conference, an event designed to bring together the best and brightest restaurant leaders to share insights as well as honor those in the industry who have truly gone above and beyond in creating superior workplaces. During the conference, Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K) presents several awards to celebrate such workplaces, including the Best Practices Awards, the Diamond Catalyst Award, the Workplace Legacy Award and the Heart of the Workplace Award.

The Best Practices Awards

The Best Practices Awards are awarded to a restaurant in each dining segment for outstanding performance in categories such as workforce diversity, community involvement and sustainable practices. Nominees must be members of Workforce Intelligence (formerly People Report) and place in the top 10% of their segment in these categories.

The 2018 finalists includedBig Boy Restaurants, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, California Pizza Kitchen, City Barbecue, Dave & Buster’s, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, Del Taco, Denny’s, Donatos Pizza, Eat’n Park, Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse, Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ, Nando’s Peri Peri Chicken, Ninety Nine Restaurants, Olive Garden, Panda Express, Panera Bread, Perkin’s Restaurant & Bakery, Red Lobster, Texas Roadhouse, The Capital Grille, The Cheesecake Factory, The Wendy’s Company and Whataburger.

“At Wendy’s, we continue to strive for even stronger employee satisfaction and retention by elevating the employee experience, strengthening training and development opportunities and career pathing and enhancing the overall workplace environment to ensure Wendy’s remains a great place to work,” said Coley O’Brien, chief people officer for The Wendy’s Company.

The 2018 winners in each segment were:

  • Quick Service: The Wendy’s Company
  • Fast Casual: Panda Express
  • Family Dining: Eat’n Park
  • Casual Dining: Olive Garden
  • Upscale Casual: The Cheesecake Factory
  • Fine Dining: The Capital Grille

The Diamond Catalyst Award

The Diamond Catalyst Award is a tribute to superior operational and workplace results. Eligible companies are members of both Workforce Intelligence (formerly People Report) and Financial Intelligence (formerly Black Box Intelligence) and are evaluated based on sales and traffic performance as well as employment and people practices. The recipient of this award sets the standard for overall best in class business performance. The Diamond Catalyst was given for the first time in 2013 to The Cheesecake Factory, and presented to Olive Garden in 2017.

The 2018 Diamond Catalyst Award winner was fast casual restaurant chain Panera Bread.

The Workplace Legacy Award

The Workplace Legacy Award recognizes a leader in the restaurant industry who has clearly demonstrated success in balancing superior people practices and best in class operational results. In addition, their employees, organizations and communities have benefited from their leadership. The Workplace Legacy Award was given for the first time in 2005 and has honored incredible industry leaders such as Doug Brooks, Chairman and CEO of Brinker International, Gene Lee, President and CEO of Darden Restaurants, John Miller, President and CEO of Denny’s Restaurants and Sally Smith, President & CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings.

The 2018 recipient was Danny Meyer, founder and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group. “Danny Meyer is an exceptional leader and a personal hero,” said Joni Thomas Doolin, CEO and founder of Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K). “He is a legend in the industry for his impassioned execution of ‘enlightened hospitality’ in venues as diverse as Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, Shake Shack and the newly launched Martina. He has never wavered from his commitment of putting his employees first, including the implementation of no-tipping policies designed to make compensation fairer for kitchen employees. It is truly a privilege to be able to honor him with this award.”

“Working to become an outstanding business leader, also known as an employer of choice, is a never-ending journey. I do believe that path is the single most motivating reason I go to work each day and this honor feels especially gratifying,” said Meyer.


The Heart of the Workplace Award

The Heart of the Workplace Award is presented to the company that demonstrates significant commitment to and investment in their employees and communities. Winners from previous years include Red Lobster, Panera Bread, Chili’s and Red Robin. This year, it was awarded to BJ’s Restaurants .“We believe at BJ’s that we are only successful if our team members are successful and our communities are vibrant. We listen to each other, we celebrate each other and we take care of each other. It is part of our DNA and something we actively do every day,” said Lon Ledwith, executive vice president at BJ’s Restaurants.