guestXM – by Black Box Intelligence

Best-in-Class Restaurants Honored at the TDn2K Global Best Practices Conference

Global Best Practices Award Winners announced, recognizing consistently superior performance and honoring restaurant organizations for workplace excellence.

Celebrating Excellence

Recognizing Excellence: The 2019 Best Practices Award Winners in the Restaurant Industry

Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K) announced the winners of the 2019 Best Practices Awards today at the 24th annual Global Best Practices Conference in Dallas, Texas. The Best Practices Awards recognize consistently superior performance and results among the hundreds of companies tracked by Workforce Intelligence (formerly People Report). These awards honor restaurant organizations for workplace excellence in their specific segment of the restaurant industry.

The 2019 award winners are:

  • City Barbeque
  • J. Gilbert’s
  • LongHorn Steakhouse
  • NORMS Restaurants
  • The Cheesecake Factory
  • The Wendy’s Company


These companies were evaluated based on their results in hourly and management retention, compensation, diversity, year-over-year improvement, and initiatives in the areas of community involvement and sustainable business practices.

“Receiving the 2019 Best Practices Award is a wonderful validation of our purpose-driven approach to caring for our workforce,” said Dina Barmasse-Gray, senior vice president of HR for The Cheesecake Factory. “We believe in nurturing the bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits of our people by developing their skills and talents and creating a sense of belonging for every teammate. We’ve come to recognize, time and time again, that putting our people first is the key to our success.”

“Operating in a challenging environment with growing headwinds—while staying true to our legacy—prepares us to take on the future with greater confidence and resilience. On behalf of the 1800+ employees who help make us a great place to work and eat, we are grateful and honored for winning the Best Practices Award for 2019,” added Amir Durrani, vice president of HR for Norms Restaurants, LLC.

“This award is a testament to the incredible leaders and team members that bring our brand to life every day,” said Todd Burrowes, president of LongHorn Steakhouse. “Our people are the fabric of our unique culture, so we’re dedicated to providing them with ongoing training and development that can propel their career forward, recognizing extraordinary individuals and creating a place where they’re proud to work.”

“We are honored to have J. Gilbert’s recognized by Black Box Intelligence for best practices in the fine dining segment,” said Mike Archer, chief executive officer of HRI, Inc. “The team at J. Gilbert’s is constantly striving to raise the bar while always having our guests’ needs and best interests at heart.” Archer continued, “For us, it’s about making a difference every day, whether it’s a simple smile, taking notice of a special occasion, or preparing the perfect dish. It’s the small moments that mean the most.”

Best Practices Award nominees were also recognized for their outstanding results.

The full list of 2019 nominees included:

  • BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse
  • Boddie-Noell Enterprises
  • Eat’n Park
  • First Watch
  • Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
  • Fogo de Chão
  • King’s Seafood
  • la Madeleine
  • Ninety Nine Restaurants
  • Olive Garden
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • Portillo’s
  • Silver Diner
  • The Capital Grille
  • The Habit Burger Grill
  • Whataburger.


In addition to the Best Practices Award honors, Black Box Intelligence also presented the Diamond Catalyst Award, the Heart of the Workplace Award, and the Workplace Legacy Award.

The Diamond Catalyst Award is a tribute to superior operational and workplace results. BJ’s Restaurants was the winner of the 2019 award. Eligible companies are members of both Workforce Intelligence and Financial Intelligence (formerly Black Box Intelligence) and are evaluated based on sales and traffic performance as well as employment and people practices. The recipient of this award sets the standard for overall best-in-class business performance.

“The team at BJ’s is honored to join the elite group of companies recognized over the years by Black Box Intelligence at the Global Best Practices Conference as Diamond Catalyst recipients. The success we enjoy at BJ’s is the result of the hard work of every team member living our culture. Taking care of our team members is the essential act we take each day. Giving our team the support, the tools and the development to allow them to take care of our guests creates a vibrant culture and success at BJ’s,” said Lon Ledwith, executive vice president of operations for BJ’s Restaurants.

The Heart of the Workplace award is presented to the company that demonstrates a significant commitment to and investment in their employees and communities. This year, la Madeleine was celebrated with this honor.

The 2019 Workplace Legacy Award was presented to Steve King, chairman of Dave & Buster’s. The Workplace Legacy Award honors a leader in the restaurant industry who has demonstrated a commitment to balancing people and profits. Their employees, organizations, and communities have benefited from their leadership.

“I was privileged to work for several leaders who believed in the power of building teams, as the way to creating a successful business. As I grew and developed as a leader, I was able to continue living this philosophy and pass it on to those I worked with, thereby growing brands and achieving success,” said Steve King. “To be recognized by Black Box Intelligence, the industry organization that has been a leader in the recognition that people are the primary ingredient to our success, is a great honor.”


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About GBPC
The Global Best Practices Conference is produced by Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K). Held in Dallas, Texas, this event is a gathering of hundreds of restaurant industry c-suite leaders brought together to tackle some of the most challenging obstacles facing the restaurant industry. The event is also the home of the Best Practice Awards, Diamond Catalyst Award, Heart of the Workplace Award, and the Workplace Legacy Award presentations. Dates for the 2020 Global Best Practices Conference are January 28th – 30th at the Westin Irving Convention Center Hotel. Learn more at

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