Brinker International Inc., parent to Chili’s Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s, prepared itself long and well to begin reopening dining rooms after two months of coronavirus restrictions, according to Rick Badgley, the company’s chief people and administrative officer.
The Dallas-based casual-dining company has been adding capacity for dine-in guests as restrictions ease across the nation, and Badgley said it has gone well.
“From a systems perspective – and credit to the team that has done this – it has been almost seamless,” Badgley said in this Extra Serving podcast.
The reopening was based on crisis team planning that had begun in the month before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March.
“We started our crisis calls in February,” Badgley said. “We had a team that met two times a day, both at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., seven days a week, trying to understand and anticipate the unknown.”
As Chili’s and Maggiano’s began to prepare for reopening dining rooms, Badgley said that crisis team transitioned into preparing for dine-in guests after relying on off-premise sales for two months. But that pivot to curbside and delivery, worked well, he said.
“We had a new mantra: The parking lot was the new dining room and safety was the new hospitality,” Badgley said.
“It helped us build new muscles,” he said. ”We were already good at off-premise, to-go, delivery, etc., but we really fine-tuned that model.”
In this podcast, Badgley explains Brinker is working to keep its team members safe as dining rooms open and also how the company supported them with mental health services during the lockdown.
The company offered all workers and their household family members free, unlimited and confidential consultations with its employee assistant program, Magellan, which included digital resources such as self-care smartphone apps to improve wellness habits and online programs to help with emotional well-being including depression or anxiety.
Listen to the conversation here:
As of March 25, Brinker owned, operated or franchised 1,675 restaurants, including 1,622 Chili’s and 53 Maggiano’s.
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