The Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers (CHART) announced that Christine Specht, CEO, Cousins Submarines, Inc., is the recipient of its 2021 Commitment to People Award. Christine will be honored at the Commitment to People Awards Gala on Monday evening, September 20, during CHART’s 100th Hospitality Training Conference at the Grand Hyatt Buckhead, Atlanta, GA.

“At the start of the pandemic, Christine made it clear that there would be no layoffs at any level at Cousins Subs. A culture of recognition and appreciation allowed them to excel in difficult times and reach financial heights previously unseen in their company history,” says Serah Morrissey, CHART President. “Under her leadership, Cousins Subs was recently recognized as one of the best workplaces in Southeastern Wisconsin by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, an award solely based on employee surveys.”

In the award application, Christine’s team offered many examples of her care for people, including implementing a new “Volunteer Time Off” program that allows employees up to 40 hours per year of paid-time-off to give back to the community for a 501c3 organization of their choice. She further walks the talk by making time to have one-on-one lunches with each of the 43 headquarters employees at least once a year, and working in the chain’s 34 corporate-owned restaurants once a week during a regular shift where she interacts with guests and employees, works the cash register, and does other crew-level tasks.

“I am truly honored to receive this award from CHART, and have the Cousins Subs team to thank for their unwavering commitment to making our restaurants better. We can only accomplish our goals through great people who are well-trained and ready to serve our guests,” says Specht. “From day one to nearly 50 years later, Cousins Subs has made our people the priority. This was something I learned from my dad and carry on today. I am dedicated to serving our employees, setting them up for success and, most importantly, caring for them as people with lives, commitments and passions outside of work. I am humbled to accept this award on behalf of all our team members who are more like family than coworkers.”

Created in 1993, this prestigious award is given annually to a CHART member’s CEO/president in the hospitality industry who demonstrates an outstanding commitment to the development of his or her associates.

CHART’s Selection Committee reviews and ranks the Commitment to People nominees in four categories:

Effective communication of the organization’s culture

Programs that demonstrate a commitment to people

Efforts to be involved in the development of people

Ability to break down barriers to create opportunities

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