Restaurant Bytes: Jeff Linville

Welcome back to Restaurant Bytes! This is a short, virtual program that asks restaurant executives questions about the issues they are facing today. Restaurant Bytes is hosted by Tom Spry (Principal of Tom Spry Executive Search) and Harri’s own Jacqueline Farmer (Enterprise Sales Executive). This segment caught up with Jeff Linville, Head of Operations at Biscuitville Fresh Southern, to discuss balancing profits while prioritizing guest health and safety in a COVID-19 environment.

Linville recognized that no matter what side of the pendulum we’re on, it is a very challenging time and we are all facing the same thing. Biscuitville is trying to balance what is best for their guests, team members, management, and what they can do in the short and long term. 

As for sales, Biscuitville is a drive thru concept, and those types of restaurants have been performing quite well, despite COVID-19. Although, their business model has shifted. Linville discussed how the brand has moved to single, double, and sometimes triple drive thru lane only. They are up in sales in this crisis, but acknowledge that it came as a result of a lot of hard work. He discusses the importance of keeping that strong while also ensuring that they are doing the right things for their team members in the short term. For example, most drive thru customers do not wear PPE, so ensuring that team members are and feel safe in their protective gear. 

On the management side, the brand has done a lot to make their team feel supported. They have increased salaries, hired additional workforce, and maximized family time. They are hoping to ease some of the burden on their staff by adding these different benefits. Linville says, “be very mindful of what your members and people go through and do some extra investment to maximize that”.

When asked how COVID-19’s spread in North Carolina has impacted Biscuitville and the company’s response, Linville responded:

 “Visibility is everything to us right now. Everything”.

He acknowledged that him and the rest of the team are spending much more time at the restaurants. He mentions that the right leadership thing to do is to stand toe-to-toe with your team and work with them out there. There is so much to be learned from being in person with these people. Ask thoughtful questions and find out what they want/need from you. This requires a lot of teamwork and collaboration between teams, but it is crucial to keeping things on track.

Linville emphasizes that there is nothing more important for restaurants right now than paying attention to your teams and guests. Their needs and the way they see your business has changed through all of this. Be mindful with them and learn from them. With your vendors, those folks are on the frontlines too when they deliver to you. Extend that courtesy to all around you. 

“The best long term plan for our business is keeping these relationships strong, keeping each other safe, ensuring the health of our vendors and our team, and showing up every day”. 

For access to the whole interview, click here:

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