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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. These workplaces are honored with the annual Best Practices awards 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.

This year’s list of finalists in the family dining segment include Perkins, Denny’s and Eat’n Park. Eat’n Park is a restaurant that not only emphasizes it’s family-friendly culture and hospitality, but also paves the way in sustainable practices. Here’s what we learned about

Does your company have any initiatives or practices that are intended to benefit a cause?

At Eat’n Park Hospitality Group, we believe we play a role in creating healthier communities. Through our LifeSmiles initiative, we’re investing $1 million and 20,000 volunteer hours over a five-year period towards organizations and partnerships that help ensure a healthier future for kids and their families.

Healthier Communities through Participation: We support and sponsor dozens of walks, runs and races that encourage families to get moving together.At many community walks and runs, you’ll see our team members representing Eat’n Park Hospitality Group serving as volunteers, forming walk teams with their colleagues and bringing their families along to participate in the activities.

Healthier Communities through Support: Community food banks are an integral part of creating healthier individuals and families. We support food banks – 23 in total – in every community where we conduct business. Our contributions benefit programs that ensure that children have access to the nutritious food they need to grow and thrive.

Healthier Communities through Partnerships: Eat’n Park Hospitality Group believes that great partnerships can inspire positive community change. We’re proud of the LifeSmiles partnerships we’ve developed during the past five years, including:

  • fitUnited is a collaboration of businesses, community groups and youth-serving organizations who are interested in sharing ideas, leveraging expertise and utilizing best practices towards making Allegheny County a healthier community for kids today and for generations to come.
  • Kids of Steel is an exercise and nutrition program designed to motivate and inspire kids to live healthier lives. During a four-month training period, approximately 6,000 children earn miles to run the equivalent of a full marathon and taste new, nutritious foods along the way. The program culminates with the Pittsburgh Kids Marathon that kids run with their friends or family.
  • The Food Trust’s HYPE (Healthy You. Positive Energy) program is a youth-led, obesity-prevention program that empowers middle and high school students to become leaders for healthy change in their schools and communities. The HYPE leadership program provides nutrition, education and leadership activities for 30,000 low-income youth in 75 Philadelphia public schools.

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Does your company have any specific initiatives, policies or practices in the brand category of sustainable business?

Eat’n Park is a sustainability leader within the hospitality industry. Company-wide programs aim to reduce our environmental impact through lowered energy usage, decreased waste and local sourcing.

Through our FarmSource program, we find and partner with some of the finest growers and producers of food in our communities. The program is designed to enhance the freshness of our product offerings without compromising our commitment to quality. Our customers enjoy fresh, wholesome foods while we support and build our relationships with the local agricultural and business community. Through FarmSource we now work with more than 120 local farms and invest in excess of $23 million dollars in annual local purchases.

How do your employees participate in your sustainability efforts?

Our employees experience our sustainability efforts first hand by using ingredients from local farms in their food prep and working in establishments that embody our sustainability initiatives including sustainable building materials, LED lighting, and energy efficient kitchens. Team members are also offered opportunities to participate in farm tours to learn more about our local sourcing and volunteer for activities that promote sustainability such as planting trees in local urban communities and planting vegetables for our local farmer partners.

What do you think sets your brand apart from others in your segment? How will this continue to play out in 2016?

Our values around food creates differentiation across all of our brands. We have a culture that values sourcing the best ingredients and preparing food from scratch. We use local ingredients whenever possible and partner with suppliers who share our values and passions. Ultimately, in every brand we operate, we care most about the taste and quality of the food. We don’t compromise on our food values for short-term gain, and that makes the difference.

Best Practice Award Nominees must be members of Workforce Intelligence (formerly People Report) and place in the top 10% of their segment in management retention, hourly employee retention, composite workforce diversity, year over year improvement in people metrics overall and community involvement. For more information on these awards, please contact sarah.atkinson-higgins@tdn2k.com.