Full Course, the restaurant and development group that helps emerging restaurateurs build and innovate their brands, announced the launch of the Full Course Foundation. Guided by the belief that learning is a key to success, the Full Course team decided to turn the company’s Learning Center into a 501(c)(3) at the end of 2022 to democratize the road to success for restaurants and their teams by offering restaurant-specific training to everyone.
“We decided to convert our learning center to a non-profit in order to lower the barrier to entry by making low-cost and free educational resources available to all who are interested in learning more about the industry. Knowledge is critical to professional growth and that begins with sharing the playbook,” says Full Course Foundation Executive Director, Lissa Bowen. “Half of Americans have their first job in restaurants, so we literally teach young people how to work as well as influence how they feel about working. And 90% of restaurant managers started as entry-level employees. Yet there’s a huge training gap in how to lead and manage effectively in this industry. We believe we have an obligation to offer new generations of workers the resources to consider restaurants as a long-term career and not just a temporary job.”
The Full Course Foundation Learning Center provides high-quality training and coaching plus online educational resources designed to shape, strengthen and fortify the future leaders of the restaurant industry. The foundation’s core belief is that education is key to successful entrepreneurship and growth and should be accessible to everyone in the restaurant industry, from the dish pit to the C-suite.
“Our mission is to cultivate the future of restaurants, one leader at a time, by offering resources at little to no cost, helping to create leaders who will change our industry for the better,” says Bowen.
Full Course Foundation’s resources are meant to engage all industry personnel from hourly employees looking to move into management positions to independent restaurant owners who want to grow their careers to restaurant group CEOs looking to better their businesses.
Currently, all of the Learning Center’s online offerings are $99 or less and include:
- A subscription-based platform called Navigator providing low-cost educational resources such as live classes and interviews with industry executives and acts as a community for restaurant operators to grow their businesses together and includes live monthly training sessions, group coaching, and Q&A sessions with the Full Course team, which has over 60 combined years of restaurant operations experience
- A library of training seminars focusing on operations, finance, marketing, and human resources
- The Launch program which takes new restaurateurs through a step-by-step program to open their first brick & mortar restaurant
- Fully customizable workshops
- Monthly seminars with industry experts
Over the next three years, Full Course plans to expand the foundation’s initiatives to also include scholarship programs, a food hall incubator for aspiring restaurateurs, a debt fund for diverse franchisees, and an operations-focused podcast.
“Ultimately, we are trying to remove the stigmas of low pay, long hours, and unrelenting stress from restaurant careers,” says Bowen. “With the proper training, restaurant managers and employees aren’t mentally exhausted, instead they’re energized from running great shifts because they are walking into the workday fully prepared and feeling valued for their labor. This makes for a more attractive career. Sometimes people forget that when shifts are executed well, working in the restaurant industry is a lot of fun.”
“Right now, the fastest growing segment of restaurant workers is 16 to 19-year-olds who, with talented and well-trained leaders, will have a great experience at their first job in the restaurant industry,” Bowen adds. “We need to hire and manage people in a retention-focused way and that includes transparency, fair wages, and the courage to put employees through training programs (even when short-staffed) so they will have the tools to do their job. This will help to show that the restaurant industry is a place where it’s possible to build a career that allows personal, professional, and financial growth and success.”
To achieve their long-term goal and provide materials and services at no cost by 2025, the foundation is seeking strategic partnerships with businesses connected to the restaurant space, including food and beverage purveyors, restaurant suppliers, and industry vendors. The foundation also is looking to fill its volunteer board of directors in 2023. Those interested in discussing potential sponsorships or being considered for the board can schedule a meeting with Bowen here.