The casual-dining chain remains thoughtful about sustainability and giving back to local communities.
Snooze an A.M. Eatery first opened in 2006. What began in Denver, Colorado, has grown to 52 locations across nine states, and there are plans for an additional eight locations in less than a year.
A key pillar to expansion over the years has been a focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategy.
Chief marketing officer Andrew Jaffe says from the beginning, the breakfast restaurant explored how it could do good through the business.
“I think for us it's always been a part of our brand ethos,” he says. “It's always been a part of our culture.”
According to a recent study from The NPD Group, Gen Z consumers are going out to restaurants less than previous generations, and care more about the values of the establishments they frequent. One example the study gives is 16 percent of Gen Z care about sustainable sourcing compared to only 11 percent of older groups.
Snooze finds employees enjoy working for a company that's doing good in the world, Jaffe says. Though the casual-dining chain has had labor issues like anyone else in the industry, its ESG values have helped with employee retention.
“I think that our competitive advantage in the market has a lot to do with our brand values, our cultural values, and what we stand for in and around our ESG approach,” Jaffe says.
One part of that approach is Snooze’s sustainable practices. For instance, there's “snooze-approved food,” which means meals pass a set of company standards for things like animal welfare and social responsibility.
Snooze hasn't wavered in its commitment to quality of supply chain, even during periods of inflation, Jaffe says.
“There's no doubt, there's got to be discipline in it,” he says. “But I think when you have a foundation of clarity around what you stand for, and what your food values are from a culinary standpoint, in a lot of ways that actually simplifies it.”
Another part of Snooze's environmental efforts is waste diversion via single-stream recycling and composting. The brand currently diverts 90 percent, but it wants to reach zero waste.
A big part of this movement is composting.
“When food waste goes to landfills, that's one of the main contributors to methane gas that’s emitted from landfills,” Jaffe says. “So, the more we can do to divert food waste from going into landfills, the better it helps our environment, and that's always been a huge initiative for us from day one.”
Snooze also promotes resource conservation through efficient appliances, vegan menu options, sustainable construction, carbon-neutral takeout, and sustainability training for all of its employees, including designation of a "change maker" at each restaurant.
“That person is kind of the champion of all things as it relates to our initiatives in the community and all things that we're doing to support the environment,” Jaffe says. “So, that's how we really try to get traction within the restaurants.”
One of the change makers' responsibilities is connecting with local nonprofits. During soft openings, Snooze offers free breakfast to these organizations, and on the anniversary of a grand opening, stores donate 10 percent to a organization of their choosing.
“That, for us, is a really important aspect of creating that connectivity to our communities, creating that connectivity for our local Snoozers to feel as though they're having a positive impact in the backyard where they might also live and work,” he says.
Each year, Snooze gives one percent of its sales back to the community, like No Kid Hungry, World Central Kitchen, Young Farmers’ Coalition, and the Trevor Project. The company will donate more than $1.4 million in 2022.
The brand also takes part in employee-centric initiatives including paid volunteer days, discounts to workers who carpool or bike to work, and planting a tree for every employee each Earth Day since 2017.
The Compass Foundation, a 501(c)(3), provides grants for employees when they find themselves in situations of financial need or require support for creative endeavors or other passions. The nonprofit is funded by other team members and grants.
“Whether they're going through a health issue, or an impromptu loss of a family member, or a massive life event that is forcing them to need the support of Snooze—that's why it's there,” Jaffe says.
Snooze also puts a focus on its diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB), such as creating a DEIB task force in 2020 and making sure resources and education are available for employees.
“We think about it through the lens of educating ourselves, educating our Snoozers, we think about it through the lens of transparency, and just making sure that we continue to evolve ourselves as it relates to all things DEIB,” Jaffe says.
When companies look to approach ESG strategy, it is easy to get overwhelmed and do nothing, he adds.
“Focus on a few things that you think you might be able to do really, really well in your restaurant that you think can have a positive impact on the planet or have a positive impact on your community,” Jaffe says. “These are things that may not feel like they're really big, but they actually have a meaningful impact when you add them up over time.”