Last April, Cane’s hosted more than 2,300 Crew, vendors, and leaders at its Timeless Horizon conference in Dallas, where co-CEO and COO AJ Kumaran unveiled a blueprint for the future consisting of new initiatives and opportunities for growth, a “Millionaire Program” for Restaurant Partners (RP), and new layers in Crew Journey, including the addition of the Assistant Restaurant Leader (ARL) role. Now, just over a year later, those ARLs are in Dallas to continue their growth story with Cane’s through a conference focused specifically for them, providing the training, tools, and support needed to achieve the next level – something unheard of in an industry that primarily invests in the general manager level and above.

Beginning Wednesday, more than 1,300 ARLs and business unit (BU) teams, which operate in the field supporting more than 800 Restaurants, traveled to Dallas’ Hilton Anatole for a three-day conference that kicked off with a welcome event Wednesday night followed by a packed agenda Thursday consisting of a general session, breakouts, and a police escort as the group headed north for a neon-themed “Texas with a Twist” party at Cane’s Dallas Restaurant Support Office. Friday rounded out the conference with closing remarks and flights home so Crew could enjoy Memorial Day Weekend with their friends and family as Cane’s across the country are closed on Monday in observance of the holiday.

At the start of the general session, Kumaran was seated in the crowd next to some ARLs and handed the microphone to an ARL named Sierra, who had been with Cane’s for seven years, lives and operates her Restaurant in McAllen, Texas, and three years ago purchased her first home, becoming the first in her family to ever do so. A complete surprise to her and the crowd, Kumaran gifted her with $10,000 to put toward her mortgage. Amidst tears and cheers, the session kicked off with a bang in true Cane’s fashion.

Sierra’s story was one of many that Kumaran recalled as he told the ARLs Cane’s believes in sharing its success with Crew and exists to make dreams come true and build careers for hundreds of thousands of Crew. Through exciting giveaways, heartfelt moments, and incredible stories of success, Kumaran set the tone for the conference and continued growth for the ARLs as he spoke to the importance of the role and the investment Cane’s is making in these Crew as the next generation of leaders.

“Today is about getting you one step closer to pursuing your dream,” says Kumaran. “Our future leaders are in this room and your opportunities here at Cane’s are endless. We’re committed to helping you achieve the next level of growth, both personally and professionally, and will make sure you have the tools and resources needed to achieve your goals.”

Kumaran also told the story of F1 underdog Lando Norris, who competed in more than 110 races before ever securing a win, and his decades of preparation to perfect his craft prior to taking home a win following the F1 race in Miami earlier this month. Norris embodies endless perseverance and maniacal focus to become the best of the best through his team, car, practice and more. Kumaran likened the importance and high stakes of Norris and his career to that of an ARL and the hard work they put in to perfect their craft and succeed every day.

In addition to sharing best practices, resources, and encouragement for ARLs to continue pursuing their career path – noting more than half of the current Restaurant Leaders (RL) were promoted from the ARL level and 45 percent of current RPs were former ARLs – Kumaran unveiled several initiatives to help ARLs succeed and focus their time.

Cane’s investment in ARLs began with the unveiling of the role last April and hasn’t stopped, with ARLs seeing a 25 percent increase in compensation over the last 12 months. Approximately 40 percent of the ARLs started in an entry level role as Crew at Cane’s, meaning they were promoted five times to get to their current level and hold a wealth of knowledge about the business and its operations – something that’s invaluable when looking for the next group of people to lead the company.

“At Timeless Horizon last year, we announced a vision to become a top 10 US Restaurant Brand and that doesn’t happen without the best and brightest operators and leaders,” says Kumaran. “We’re investing resources and money into growing our ARLs, who are the same people who will one day operate some of the most successful Restaurants in the entire industry. No other brand is investing in their assistant managers in this way. We always do right by our Crew and I believe this investment we’re making in our ARLs will change their lives and the future of our business.”

Employee Management, Fast Casual, News, Raising Cane's