Long hours and hectic environments are typical within the restaurant industry, and KNEAD Hospitality + Design hopes to change that with the rollout of a four-day work week.
From Succotash in National Harbor to Mi Vida at The Wharf, the group has several restaurants.
During the pandemic, Jason Berry, one of the founders, said the group went through “a wild time.”
“In March, we thought we were losing our company and our lives, as many people did,” Berry said. “We didn’t know what was going to happen and it was very scary.”
He said throughout that time, they began to focus more on how they could positively impact the industry and retain exceptional employees.
While he said all employees returned post-pandemic, the need for a more balanced work-life experience became apparent.
“Over the course of the past year and a half, we saw a few people who said, ‘Hey, I’m burnt out, I’m tired, I love this industry but I just can’t do it, it doesn’t fit with my lifestyle,”’ Berry added.
He said they’ve since rolled out a program called Four Days at Work, which will eventually transition all of the group’s restaurants to a more flexible four-day work week for salaried employees, a move they believe will help position them as an employer of choice.
Employees will work 12-hour days and have the option to finish administrative work remotely.
“We believe that focused quality time on the floor will create better hospitality and warmer service,” said Berry.
While the change will cost about $250,000 to bring on two additional managers and a new chef at Mi Vida, it’s a move that Berry said will be more conducive to employees’ needs and more profitable in the long run.
They’re currently running test cases, with plans to launch the new program in all of their restaurants by the end of the year.
“We’re doing something different than almost anybody else in the District. It’s a way to not only take care of the people we have but to build new relationships,” Berry said.