Ashley Christensen Restaurant Group (also known as "AC Restaurants") is a nationally-recognized hospitality brand based in Raleigh, NC. They have earned acclaim from The New York Times, Bon Appetit, and the James Beard Foundation. Ashley won the James Beard award for Outstanding Chef 2019.
The restaurant industry endures an ongoing problem: more job openings than the talent to fill them. Staff shortages lead to costly inefficiencies and multiply the need to keep and grow the people you have while also attracting new talent. Relying on temp work is out of budget for operators and is only a short-term solution. AC Restaurants is no stranger to this challenge.
“There are hidden costs of attrition, and hidden costs of unhappiness in the workplace. So our approach to controlling labor has always been one of doing as much as we can to make our workplace attractive.” ~ Kait Goalen, Executive Director
15% of AC employees are non-native English speakers. Kaitlyn Goalen, executive director, and her team saw an opportunity to bridge the gap between employees and their managers by investing in communication and training tools.
ESL Works is a leading ESL tool for the food and hospitality industry. It's flexible and adaptable to the needs of the needs of hourly employees. Jenny Jones, operations manager at AC’s commissary kitchen, notes that she chose ESL Works because it is industry specific. "It's relevant every single day to our employee's work."
“Breaking the training down into manageable 10-minute chunks means you don't have to worry about rearranging your schedule to make it happen. That makes it infinitely better than anything I've seen.” ~ Kait, Executive Director
ACR has seen productivity gains as well as a positive change in their team. Managers report daily operations are more efficient. At the same time, employees are noticeably more willing to communicate and more confident. Jenny exemplified in a story about Dina, a prep cook: "She was trying to explain a complicated issue with mac ‘n' cheese the other day in English. And after she tried to explain it, she said, "Do you understand?" to confirm if I got what she was trying to say. I had never heard her do that before! It was so great!".