Enlightened Hospitality: The Power of Building Community

Interview by Billy Shore

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

How do you build true community into your business and your life? On this episode of Add Passion and Stir, Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti and cookbook author Katie Workman (The Mom 100 and Dinner Solved!) discuss how their passion for food shaped their commitment to hospitality and community. “The bigger we get, the smaller we have to act,” says Garutti about the 164 restaurants he oversees worldwide. For Shake Shack, that means teaming up with as many local and artisanal food producers as possible and also becoming active members of their restaurants’ local communities. Workman, who has been a supporter of Share Our Strength for 25 years, believes that most people who are drawn to food as a profession are concerned with hunger. “I don’t think I would be as satisfied by what I do for a living if helping to feed hungry people wasn’t a big part of it,” she says. Garutti believes the restaurant business is a noble profession where the main responsibility is to take care of people every single day. “We start by taking care of our team first, only then can we take care of our guests and our communities, our suppliers, and ultimately the people who invest in us,” he says.

Host Billy Shore asks Garutti how he builds community spirit into the company. He responds that Shake Shack looks for people who are intellectually curious, have a good work ethic and a strong emotional intelligence. “We call those things ‘the 51% of you.’ We’ve never asked someone in an interview if they know how to make a milkshake – we’ll teach you how to do the 49% of the job that’s technical – but we can’t teach you how to be emotionally aware,” he says. Contributing to her community is also important to Workman, who serves on the Board of City Harvest in New York City. “To love what you do is probably up there with the greatest gifts that you can have. And to be able to also use that as a way to give back, make other peoples’ lives enriched in some way…you are a pretty lucky person,” she concludes.

Listen to this conversation between two long-time Share Our Strength supporters about what it means to be active members of their communities.

Resources and Mentions:

Randy Garutti

CEO of Shake Shack, is responsible for the performance, excellence, profitability and direction of the company. Prior to leading Shake Shack, Randy was a Senior Manager at Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), most recently as Director of Operations, overseeing the operations for all USHG restaurants. In 2006, Randy was named one of the Crain Top 40 Under 40. In addition, Randy served as General Manager of Union Square Cafe and Tabla, both of which have won numerous accolades in the hospitality industry. In January 2003, Randy was named one of the Top 50 General Managers in the country by Nation’s Restaurant News. Before joining USHG 14 years ago, Randy was the General Manager of the acclaimed Canlis Restaurant in Seattle. Prior to that, Randy worked in various management roles with Chart House Restaurants in Aspen, CO, and Maui, HI. Randy graduated from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration in 1997 and also studied at La Sorbonne in Paris.

Katie Workman

A cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook. Published in 2012, The Mom 100 Cookbook was Katie’s first book. It was nominated for an IACP award and selected by Cooking Light as one of the best 100 books of the past 25 years. In her second book, Dinner Solved!, published August 2015, Katie continued her ingenious fork-in-the-road approach to cooking for families. Katie also writes the “Cooking on Deadline” column for AP, which reaches hundreds of thousands of readers a week.  She has written regularly for FoodNetwork.com. Katie is the co-host of a new short form cooking series on CraftsyUnlimited.com called Real Life Cooking and has also been a frequent guest on NPR’s All Things Considered. Katie sits on the board of City Harvest, New York’s leading food rescue nonprofit, and for the past 25 years has been an active supporter of No Kid Hungry/Share Our Strength.

No Kid Hungry

Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.

Root Cause Coalition

The Root Cause Coalition is a national, member-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the root causes of health disparities by focusing on hunger and other social determinants leading to nationwide epidemic of preventable chronic health conditions.

Shake Shack

Sprouted from a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park in Manhattan to support the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s first art installation. The cart was quite the success, with Shack fans lined up daily for three summers. In 2004, a permanent kiosk opened in the park: Shake Shack was born. This modern day “roadside” burger stand serves up the most delicious burgers, hot dogs, frozen custard, shakes, beer, wine and more. An instant neighborhood fixture, Shake Shack welcomed people from all over the city, country and world who gathered together to enjoy fresh, simple, high-quality versions of the classics in a majestic setting. Using the phrase, We Stand For Something Good® in everything we do. Shake Shack uses carefully sourced premium ingredients from like-minded purveyors; builds with thoughtful, well-crafted and responsible design for its place; and provides deep community support through donations, events and volunteering.

City Harvest

Pioneered food rescue in 1982 when they saw the abundance of excess food and recognized the practical purpose it could serve in filling the plates of the working mom who had trouble making ends meet at month’s end, the senior in the apartment upstairs living on a fixed income, and the family around the corner coping with a large and unexpected medical bill. Today, nearly 1.3 million New Yorkers struggle to put meals on their tables, and they have scaled up their efforts to fight hunger. City Harvest will collect 59 million pounds of excess food this year and deliver it free of charge to 500 soup kitchens, food pantries, and other community food programs across the five boroughs. By redirecting this nutritious food from supermarkets, manufacturers, farmers markets, and restaurants to people in need, they support local communities and reduce the environmental impact of food that would otherwise go to waste. Through their Healthy Neighborhoods programs, they work with community partners in low-income neighborhoods across New York City to improve access to healthy, affordable food and teach residents the basics of nutrition and how to shop for and cook healthy meals on a budget.

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