Built up by a team of three partners on December 12, 2012, Rail Trail began as a family-friendly restaurant that serves flatbread pizza and other classic American dishes. The company has more recently expanded by opening a micro-creamery and a speakeasy-style bar.
While the company experienced some early success and rapid growth, the founding partners quickly realized that if they wanted to scale, they needed a system that could better engage their employees in running the operation.
After learning about The Great Game of Business® (GGOB) from Rethink Restaurant Group, a consultancy, the partners applied for a state-funded grant to begin implementing a vigorous financial literacy program—conducted in both English and Spanish—to educate their employees about how the business makes money and generates cash.
Financially, the team has taken control of their costs and expenses—dropping them between 20% to 30%—while also increasing revenue. Just as importantly, the team says that The Great Game of Business helped them open up the possibilities of attracting and retaining a strong workforce in a blue-collar area that previously did not attract as much younger talent. “We found that by opening our books and leading our team with education, financial literacy classes, and a game culture helped to solidify our team and business in our downtown,” says Luke Doherty, Bar Manager. “We are fostering a culture of leaders in order to be a place that innovates and leads.”
“I have only worked for the company for two weeks, but to see how bought-in the entire staff is to these concepts and meetings is genuinely shocking. Such a step up from other establishments I've worked for.”
~ David Leopardi, Manager-in-Training
Spotlight on the Pandemic
Rail Trail, like so many other food and leisure businesses, was initially hit hard when the pandemic shut the economy down. But, after a few days in limbo, the team rallied together to begin offering takeout and delivery service to their community. “Being open-book made it so much easier to have conversations with the team about what we needed to do to keep the business going,” says Karim El-Gamal, one of the partners in the business, adding that the team relied on their Huddles more than ever to keep connected. “Everyone was open and asking the tough questions. But everyone wasn’t waiting around to see what decisions came down from the so-called ivory tower either. It was so cool to see everyone stepping up and asking, ‘What’s next?’” Not only did Rail Trail save jobs by adapting to the challenge, but they are also now in position to grow rapidly as their competition struggles to bring their employees back to work in the post-pandemic economy.
The Rail Trail team has found great success in playing MiniGames built around hiring, cost of goods, and guest check averages. With one game, the team increased sales 2%, and in another, they significantly reduced waste in a trackable way.
“GGOB brings Transparency to the workplace, makes workers more knowledgeable of why and how inventory decisions are made and why certain practices introduced to the work culture are necessary.”
~ Serena Howes, Takeout/Host
Rail Trail has plans to hire another 100 employees in the coming year as they pave the way for a new restaurant to add to their existing mix of restaurant, micro-creamery, and speakeasy bar. “We are looking to hire and we’re able to do that by selling our culture,” says Doherty. “Our goal is to create opportunities for our team to have big wins that impact their lives and their ownership mentality.”
“We are a lot more aware of where the company’s money and our hard work is going, and we are able to be more cautious and responsible when working.”
~ Alex Smolowitz, Kitchen Worker