HR Innovation

Three not-so-surprising ways HR helps this Louisville business thrive – HR Affiliates Blog


Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse and Raw Bar has been serving “the freshest flavors of American Southern cuisine” in historic downtown Louisville, Kentucky, for over 7 years. We sat down with Charles Frede, manager of the popular spot on Main Street’s Whiskey Row, and talked about the culture at Doc Crow’s — yes, they’re our client — and how that can be built and maintained with some pretty basic HR principles.

Proper Training = Daily Success

A key responsibility of HR is to provide training that’s sufficient to allow employees to be their best. Charles believes that Doc Crow’s does just that. “Every single server is trained for every front-of-house position so they can appreciate the level of commitment that everybody has,” particularly during a busy time. Not only does that prepare Doc Crow’s for a rush of diners, it’s allowed the restaurant to build a staff of highly trained professionals. These positions are so coveted, Charles tells us there is a one-year waiting list to join the ranks.

Not Just Open Doors, But Open Ears

Most managers will at least claim that they listen to advice from employees, but Charles provided some great examples of management not just listening to staff, but implementing some of their ideas.

During a recent all-staff meeting, servers suggested replacing booths with new tables, and offering a house salad in a smaller size to better complement large entrees. Employees were comfortable making suggestions because management had made it clear to them that their opinions are valued, then proved it by implementing those changes. Actions like this build trust between management and employees, while helping the restaurant’s bottom line.

A Team That’s All In

Perhaps the most revealing story about the culture at Doc Crow’s is how the servers are considerate of each other and other staff, especially when it comes to the tipping policy. Under Kentucky law, if restaurant servers agree to a system of tip sharing, they must all agree to it. So rather than a free-for-all system where servers keep their tips for themselves, all tip money is pooled and then shared among servers, food runners, etc. That’s not a common system in the restaurant business, Charles told us, but it’s indicative of the culture at Doc Crow’s.

A Cultural Evolution

Perhaps the most accurate measure of a company’s culture is its turnover rate. As suggested by the one-year wait to become a restaurant server, turnover at Doc Crow’s is indeed very low. For instance, the average server has been there longer than 4 years. While company culture is difficult to measure, it’s clear that Doc Crow’s understands how HR, culture, reputation, and quality are all dependent on one another.

Want to hear how HR Affiliates can help your company better its culture? Get in touch. We’d love to talk.

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