These change-makers are making mental health a priority in the restaurant industry

In the hospitality industry and beyond, the need for better mental health support has been picking up steam. These essential conversations are even making their way into popular television shows like The Bear, helping to raise awareness among viewers who may not be familiar with the restaurant industry’s shortcomings.

All that to say, we’re hopeful. Awareness gives way for change, and, by the looks of the three stories below, change is happening. In this edition of Weekly Bites, we’re covering three accounts of restaurants and nonprofits that are ushering in a new era that prioritizes the mental health of its workers. We hope this edition isn’t just entertaining and informative, but that it also inspires you to take care of yourself and the people around you.

The customer is always right, but the staff come first always 

The restaurant industry has been undergoing a metamorphosis these past few years, in large part because the pandemic forced everyone to rethink what it means to have a sustainable and resilient business.

Now, restaurants are thinking about how to operate in a way that’s more fair to all staff. This Bon Appétit article highlights how some of the restaurants that made their “Best Restaurants of 2022” are implementing some of these radical changes. (That is, radical for the restaurant industry.) 

These changes include reducing hours, paring down menus, and minimizing complicated server-customer interactions. While it might be a scary thought to increase wages in an already tight-margin operation like a restaurant, the trailblazers that have implemented these changes have seen out-the-door lines and months of reservations booked ahead of time. Some of the ideas the article highlights is charging an automatic 20% service fee that’s shared in an equal tip pool, and funding employee healthcare by raising menu prices by just 5%. Other ideas include closing on weekends, giving employees paid vacation, and shortening service hours. 

The idea is that by putting staff first, restaurants are able to operate a business that’s sustainable (and avoids burnout), with little staff turnover. Not to mention that shortened hours and pared-down menus give customers a feeling of exclusivity. If it’s hard to score a reservation, then it must be a hot new place to check out, right?

What if you could avoid burning out?

Tim Etherington-Judge, Founder of Healthy Hospo, was working as a brand ambassador for a liquor company when he burned out and experienced deep depression. It was then that he decided to do something about it. In an article by Back of House, he says, “I decided to talk very publicly about my mental health but also the way that the hospitality industry treats people. I got a lot of messages of love and support and people opening up to me about their personal experiences within the industry that left me wanting to do something to change this ridiculous narrative that we’re all rockstars and can drink as much as we want and sleep when we’re dead.”

Healthy Hospo is a nonprofit that provides well-being training programs to professionals in the hospitality industry. Classes and virtual training cover topics like mental health, sleep, nutrition, and even financial health. Healthy Hospo’s vision is to provide a preventative approach to the unique challenges that hospitality workers face. 

While other organizations out there exist to help burnt out hospitality workers get help, Healthy Hospo is all about avoiding burnout to begin with. 

Table 1807 partners with The Burnt Chef Project

Did you know our very own Table 1807 has recently partnered with The Burnt Chef Project to talk about mental health and the holidays? 

Table 1807 is a community Facebook group hosted by Chef Works where hospitality workers across the country talk about the real issues facing the industry today (and sometimes silly memes, too). 

Table 1807 met with The Burnt Chef Project’s ambassadors and founder Kris Allen to talk about some tips and strategies for taking care of your mental health during the holiday season. You can catch the replay here

The Burnt Chef Project is a nonprofit dedicated to making the industry an overall healthier place by focusing on people’s well-being and mental health. In addition to workplace training and educational resources, The Burnt Chef Project offers a free 24/7 support service for hospitality industry workers to talk about their mental health. They also provide free challenges aimed at promoting healthy habits. 

If you haven’t joined the conversation over at Table 1807, we have an open seat for you! Click here to join.

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