The age-old saying, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" hits a different cord as we close out 2021 given the extraordinary times our hospitality community has encountered. While there have been struggles, challenges and low points there has also been positive change. Here is a compilation of industry leaders who shared their "lemonade" moments with us.

1

“The pandemic and social unrest has literally opened many hearts and minds for the betterment of our overall well-being. We now talk more openly about mental wellness, suicide, financial insecurity, racial injustice and so many “taboo” subjects that now are being addressed in a more authentic and meaningful way. Uncomfortable conversations have become more commonplace and essential to solving challenges and looking at them with more positive energy. We have been able to lead Diversity Forums, educational webinars about transgender, pronoun education usage, Diversity Training, coaching support to manager teams, more inclusive hiring, community engagement to name a few.”

Michelle Herndon (Director of Diversity & Community)
2

“We learned to operate more efficiently, we learned to put more power in the hands of our operators and chefs while making better connections with our guests. We decreased the size of our corporate team while we increased the investment in our people operating our restaurants and on the front lines with our guests. Our chefs became even more creative while dealing with supply chain and staffing issues, they continued to impress us with fantastic additions improving our offerings and increasing guest loyalty.”

Dave Magrogan (Owner/CEO) 
Harvest Restaurant Holdings
3

"This year, we focused on the benefits that we provide our teams. We’re tremendously lucky that we have been able to significantly expand our benefits program. We’ve focused on trying to create the space and ability for our teams to have full lives outside of work."

Jeff Katz (General Manager and Co-Owner)
4

“When COVID-19 restrictions shut down indoor dining in mid-March 2020, Lettuce was faced with a dilemma: a great group of interns and nowhere to place them. Instead of cancelling the intern program, the HR/Internship team of Cheryl Symank and Izzy Shaindlin saw an amazing opportunity and created a 100% virtual program -- a first for Lettuce! In spite of the uncertainty, participation numbers remained high and the Class of 2020 Interns were excited, engaged and eager to learn. Enhancements to the remote learning model were added to the 2021 intern program, and we enjoyed another successful year. Cheryl and Izzy have already incorporated the insights gained from a virtual model into plans to return our traditional internship program. ”

Christine Hill (Director of Recruiting)
5

“At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we launched a relief fund to support our employees who were out of work. Over the course of that subsequent year, we issued a total of nearly $300,000 in grants to over 400 employees , assisting with food, housing, medical bills and childcare, amongst other things. As we began to return to full operating capacity in the restaurants, we realized that there will be times in the future where our employees may need additional support. In recognition of this, we have established the Fabio Trabocchi Hospitality Family Fund, which will help employees in times of crisis or through unforeseen challenges now and into the future. We are excited to provide ongoing assistance to our amazing team!”

6

“We saw the vaccine mandate coming and decided to work with our teams and make it happen for our families, our diners and the industry. As a result, our team is fully vaccinated with the exception of a couple religious accommodations. We want to ensure we can continue welcoming our teams, families, and guests into our space in a safe way.”

Jada Robinson (Human Resources Manager) and Viviana Radenbaugh (Senior Director of Human Resources)
The Alinea Group
7

“Through downturns and countless unpredictable variables, I learned how to become comfortable in the uncomfortable to make the best of what the “world” was giving us.”

Andy Danh (Team Lead – Talent Acquisition)