For the past three years, our little family company has landed itself on the Inc 5000's list of fastest growing privately held companies. This year we hit #653 with a three-year growth percentage of 598%. That's not a typo.
While we certainly celebrate and marvel at this feat, and mostly simply find it unbelievable, it comes with its own set of worries. Top of my Worry List is always our company culture. The family that we've built at our restaurants with our associates is the most important thing to me and what I feel the most protective of as we continue to grow. Naturally, neither Andy nor I are able to spend the one on one time that we used to with our teams as we now have well over 500 employees across eight units, with three more on the way in 2017. While I do spend a lot of time in each of our restaurants, and I personally know a lot of our staff and all of our managers, I felt like Our Story was starting to sound a whole lot like a long game of telephone. Gone are the days where every team member can learn about our history and who we are as people and as a family straight from the horse's mouth.
I would be lying if I said this didn't make me a little sad.
I recently read (or heard?) something about Danny Meyer whose book Setting the Table influenced me greatly in my early twenties as I transitioned from restaurant job to restaurant career. His restaurant group Union Square Hospitality has twelve restaurants (and growing) in the NYC area and one in Chicago, to my understanding. Oh and he's also the founder of Shake Shack, no biggie. According to the article (or podcast?), he still conducts history and culture training for his new employees on a regular basis. I don't even know for sure if this continues to be accurate, but it was a light bulb moment for me.
I've set about the task of putting together a presentation that covers our history, our people and our culture for all new employees that I will be conducting monthly when I get back from maternity leave in January. It also occurred to me that we have many current associates that haven't heard this information (as I sat in one of our restaurants and heard one of our servers tell a totally inaccurate story about our origins) so I'm also in the midst of making the rounds to each location and re-training each team. It took a lot of time to put together the presentation (thanks Lindsay for your help!) but it was really fun going through all the photos and walking down memory lane a bit. And it's been even more fun to share it with our teams and connect our story to theirs more directly.
Here's some of the photos I dug up: