Founded in 2016 by CEO and restaurateur Steven Salm and executive chef David Lee, PLANTA is a full-service restaurant brand on a mission to make sure plant-based eating and sustainability aren’t just industry buzzwords. At PLANTA, those things are the foundation of its hospitality experience.
The rapidly expanding brand has 11-units, with plans to open as many as eight more locations this year. PLANTA isn’t just seeking to build a new way of doing things from a culinary perspective, the brand is also disrupting the industry by building a warm, inviting culture for its team members—it wants to uproot the often negative views of what it’s like to work in the foodservice industry.
“That isn’t just about the food we are serving—it’s also about the culture we are building inside of our restaurants,” says Yuting Shen, director of training at PLANTA. “We want to change this notion that the hospitality industry has to be this toxic environment. We have an environment of inclusivity and we love to highlight how important our people are.”
Building that environment begins with the way PLANTA trains its people. Rather than throw employees into the fire on day one—or, on the other end of the spectrum, to have employees read stacks of materials and take quizzes for hours a day during their first week—PLANTA uses Opus, a mobile-first, AI-powered training platform that seamlessly embeds employees into the brand’s culture from day one.
Like many restaurants, PLANTA’s team members tend to be millennials and Gen Zers—to grab their attention, content must be optimized to be engaging and accessible. To do that, Opus delivers short videos that are short, digestible, and can be viewed by an employee on any mobile device. Videos are sometimes followed by an interactive quiz. What makes Opus unique from other platforms, Shen says, is its “blended-learning” model: immediately after digesting what they’ve learned, each team member gets an opportunity to put what they’ve learned into practice. The platform is designed to enhance and digitally track in-person training rather than replace it.
“We remind our leaders constantly: We don’t want Opus to be a replacement for hands-on training,” says Natalia Rojas-Valois, senior learning and development manager at PLANTA. “It’s just an additional resource and tool to complement that training and learning that’s already happening.”
The team at PLANTA loves that Opus appeals to different types of learners. It also offers translations into 100 languages—this is pivotal to a brand with locations in cosmopolitan cities like Toronto, Miami, and New York. The brand continues to expand in hot markets like those, and will soon eclipse 1,000 total employees. That number is increasing significantly in the coming years.
“Paul Weinstein, our senior director of operations, is somebody who is extremely innovative,” Shen says. “He has this vision of how we’re going to open locations in the best, most efficient way possible. Opus has become the tool we use to verify that all of our content is being engaged with. It’s how we verify that everybody is on the same page.”
What Rojas-Valois and Shen praise most about their training platform is that, above all else, Opus is a collaborative partnership rather than a static piece of software. That praise extends to the executive team as well—Salm is a huge fan of Opus and its mission.
“Moving forward with a platform like Opus—that connected and resonated with our employees— was our number one priority,” Salm says. “In hospitality, having a resource that is available at the touch of your fingertips is most definitely the solution for today’s workforce.”
For more on Opus, visit the company’s website.