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Black Box Intelligence announced the winners of the 2018 Best Practices Awards today at the 23rd 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. These awards honor restaurant organizations for workplace excellence in their specific segment of the restaurant industry.

“2017 was an exceptionally difficult year for the restaurant industry and pressure on balancing people and profits was greater than ever. Conscious and courageous leadership matters more than ever before. It is a privilege to be able to showcase and celebrate this group of elite brands and executive teams that are demonstrating that even in competitive and challenging times, putting people first can make a difference,” said Joni Thomas Doolin, CEO and founder of Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K).

The 2018 award winners are The Capital Grille, The Cheesecake Factory, Eat’n Park, Olive Garden, Panda Express and 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 sustainability.

“At Wendy’s, we continue to strive for even stronger employee satisfaction and retention by elevating the employee experience, strengthening training and development opportunities and career pathing, and enhancing the overall workplace environment to ensure Wendy’s remains a great place to work,” said Coley O’Brien, incoming chief people officer for The Wendy’s Company.

“Our team members are our greatest asset so we are focused on creating an environment that builds excitement and pride among our people,” added Theresa Willings, senior vice president of human resources for Olive Garden. “Our culture, built on continuous training and celebrating our people, is best reflected in our more than 96,000 team members and the memorable experiences they provide our guests every day.”

Best Practices Award nominees were also recognized for their outstanding results. 2018 nominees included: Big Boy Restaurants, BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse, California Pizza Kitchen, City Barbeque, Dave & Buster's, Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House, Del Taco, Denny's, Donatos Pizza, Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse, Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ, Nando's Peri Peri Chicken, Ninety Nine Restaurants, Panera Bread, Perkins Restaurant & Bakery, Red Lobster, Texas Roadhouse and Whataburger.

In addition to these honors, Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K) 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. Panera Bread was the winner of the 2018 award. Eligible companies are members of both Workforce Intelligence (formerly People Report) 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.

“Our culture of bringing your best authentic self to work each day is not only what I love most about working for Panera, but what sets us apart as a company and an employer. Over the past few years, our continued focus on innovation, dynamic people processes, and staying true to our culture helped us push the envelope and stay ahead of the curve in both the restaurant and workforce space,” said Jaynanne Calaway, vice president of people operations for Panera.

“We are so proud to accept the Diamond Catalyst Award, but we are not ready to rest. We know keeping people at the heart of our business is key to our continued success,” added Blaine Hurt, chief executive officer and president.

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, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery was honored with this award.

“We believe at BJ’s that we are only successful if our team members are successful and our communities are vibrant. We listen to each other, we celebrate each other and we take care of each other. It is part of our DNA and something we actively do every day,” said Lon Ledwith, executive vice president.

The 2018 Workplace Legacy Award was presented to Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group. 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.

About GBPC

The Global Best Practices conference, now in its 23rd year, 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 2019 Global Best Practices Conference are January 27 - 29th, at the Hilton Granite Park in Plano, Texas.

About Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K)

Black Box Intelligence is the parent company of Workforce Intelligence, Financial Intelligence, and Guest Intelligence. Workforce Intelligence provides service-sector human capital and workforce analytics for its members monthly. Financial Intelligence provides weekly financial and market-level data for the restaurant industry. Guest Intelligence delivers consumer insights and reveals online brand health. Black Box Intelligence membership represents 43,000+ restaurant units, 2.5 million employees, and over $68 billion in sales. They are also the producers of leading restaurant industry events including the Global Best Practices Conference held annually each January in Dallas, Texas.

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