Addison, Texas-based, 69-location gastropub chain Bar Louie is beginning to find its feet again after declaring and climbing out of bankruptcy in early 2020. After achieving profitability in 2021, one of the biggest concerns for the company, like much of the restaurant industry, is alleviating high turnover rates, and Bar Louie has stood out for its new general manager benefits and career path incentive program launched on Jan 1.
In addition to providing for general managers paid vacation time, a three-week sabbatical every three years (once they hit their third year of service) and paying for continuing education that would benefit a hospitality career, CEO Tom Fricke said that Bar Louie is also experimenting with a choice of personalized benefits. General managers can now choose to either participate in a profit-sharing program from revenue made from the bar, or to not work closing shifts.
In this way, a younger general manager that is trying to save up money might choose the first option, while a general manager with young children might find the second option more appealing.
“I think you have to address the lifestyle concerns of people,” Fricke said, in addition to increasing compensation for employees generally. “Our general managers are the heart and soul of the company, and they do so much for us[..] We really wanted to come up with a creative way to reward our general managers and let them choose what was most important and relevant for them at this stage in their lives.”
The new benefits rolled out on Jan. 1, and managers are already having overwhelmingly positive reactions to them. Fricke said that the goal is not just to reward managers and curb turnover rates, but also to encourage a career trajectory at the company. He recently created a new position of executive general manager, which requires three years of experience as a general manager and comes with added benefits of either choosing even more profits off the bar or one weekend off per month.
Although of course it’s too early to tell, but Fricke is hopeful that unique benefits like this will stabilize the workforce and give the company a competitive advantage for attracting and keeping great workers.
“It’s important to provide people an opportunity to continue to grow, build their skill sets and build their experiences,” Fricke said. “It was a logical extension for us to not just create that career track for people, but also to increase the way we reward them as they as they progress through. [..] We really hope it allows people to grow within Bar Louie.”
Contact Joanna at [email protected]
Find her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi