Episode Summary

The future of hospitality, especially restaurants, lies in how well you create and use your brand and employee value proposition (EVP). But an EVP is more than what you say on a job interview to attract top talent; it’s the action you take when that candidate becomes a member of your team.
In this episode of Restaurants Reinvented, our host Jen Kern welcomes Lauren Fernandez, Founder and CEO of Full Course, a unique investment firm on a mission to educate the next generation of restaurant leaders.
Lauren and Jen discuss the employee-first approach and the power of a well-thought-out employee value proposition. They also talk about the importance of training and education in the restaurant industry to make employees consider it as a career.


🍽 Name: Lauren Fernandez
🍽 What she does: Lauren is the CEO and Founder of Full Course.
🍽 Company: Full Course
🍽 Noteworthy: Lauren has a background in product development, branding, restaurant operations and franchising and was General Counsel for Focus Brands.
🍽 Where to find Lauren: LinkedIn

Key Insights

🌶️ The future of your business depends on a well-defined WHY.
At their genesis, brands & owners will have a mission and a vision to guide their restaurants. However, with the past two difficult years, many restauranteurs have abandoned their “why” to focus on staying afloat amidst the pandemic and widespread labor challenges. Lauren suggests that now is the best time for restaurant owners & brands to recalibrate and locate their purpose again.
“The make-or-break moments could be small side projects that support the overall mission financially or from a marketing perspective or benefit the brand… when you can understand the things that make an owner-operator and the founder of a brand tick, you can build better purpose and mission for the brand itself.”
🌶️ Embrace the employee-first approach.
For a long time now, restaurants have followed the customer-first mantra. However, with a change in the business climate and how employees perceive job opportunities, coupled with the global pandemic, restaurant owners must put employees first.
🌶️ An EVP is more than words; It requires action.
As Lauren explains, today’s workforce is more open to looking at various job opportunities — restaurants are competing with not only other restaurants but also other industries. The modern workforce doesn’t fear changing their industry or the entire career, AT ALL. That’s why restaurant owners must develop an employee value proposition (EVP) that focuses on career growth which encourages prospects to stay on for years to come.

Episode Highlights

The Importance of Training
Lauren believes that training in restaurants has to be engaging, interactive, understanding, and must align with the brand in a way that makes sense. Keeping your team captivated and informed during training can help them retain the information and know why things work. 
“The other piece of training that’s missing is the bigger picture training — leadership, mentoring, and other coaching classes about life, generally. I think, as an industry, we have to put ourselves out there a little bit and offer to these hourly employees that, ‘If you want to better yourself, if you want to be on the path to a manager, wonderful. Here are a couple of courses we think would be great for you to take. Why don’t you read this Simon Sinek book? Why don’t you do this workshop? We’ll pay for it.’
And you’re generating that kind of reciprocal goodwill, where you appreciate their willingness to learn and to better themselves. And you’re saying, ‘Hey, this is going to benefit you for the rest of your life. It will benefit you regardless of whether it’s for our restaurant-specific management training program.’ “
We Educate the Next Generation of Restaurant Leaders
Lauren says that educating the next generation of restaurant leaders is the main focus of her company does, Full Course. When they invest, they are committed to diversity & inclusion and are thoughtful to the purpose and mission of the brand.
“At its core, Full Course is an investment firm. But we’re so much more than that because we take an active stake and truly engage with the community, starting with education and the inordinate amount of time as an investment firm that we spend getting these brands ready for investment. […] So, it’s a very different style of restaurant growth, development, and investment, and we’re so proud to be bringing that to light.”

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