First opened in 2012, Ramen Tatsu-ya is one of the trendiest brands on the Austin, Texas, food scene. The concept has grown to eight locations in Austin. Ramen Tatsu-Ya is the flagship concept of a restaurant company, the Tatsu-ya restaurant group, that has six different concepts in total—everything from an izakaya (Kemuri Tatsu-ya) to a hot-pot restaurant with an ice cream parlor counterpart (DipDipDip Tatsu-ya).
All told, the Tatsu-ya Organization has 400 employees, most of whom hail from the Generation Z demographic. As the company continues to open new locations and concepts, it has faced a snowballing challenge of training younger workers while upkeeping a well-earned reputation for delivering a great customer experience. As a result, Tatsu-ya leadership recently identified training as an area that needed an overhaul—they were using a well-known learning management system (LMS) that was hampering the company’s ability to educate and communicate with employees.
“It was a logistical nightmare,” says Gary Rook, senior vice president of finance and human resources with the Tatsu-ya restaurant group. “We needed a platform that would meet our needs. For us, we have to have a way to show new employees what our culture and beliefs are. We have to have consistent messaging across all of the different brands and we knew we didn’t really have a good way of executing that.”
After researching potential solutions, the Tatsu-ya Organization landed on Opus, a training platform that offers a mobile-learning experience that is paired with on-the-job training. The platform’s biggest selling points are its ease of use and high employee engagement rates—Rolie Sanchez, director of training and development of Tatsu-ya, fully endorses the platform’s ability to do both.
Sanchez says he can easily build meaningful, effective training modules with multiple lessons on the platform in 30 minutes or less. Similarly, he enjoys the fact that Opus sessions are typically 3-to-5 minutes long, mobile-based, and visual—they are typically made up of pictures and videos, making them perfectly suited for the younger generation that makes up the company’s workforce. The idea is that employees can quickly absorb company knowledge, take a brief quiz, and then immediately put what they learned into action.
“What I love about Opus is that they understand restaurant workers don’t have the time to sit behind a computer for an hour taking quizzes,” Sanchez says. “Opus lives on your phone—if somebody needs to brush up on their skills, they can whip out their phone and take a course quickly.”
Shion Aikawa, partner and senior vice president of culture at Tatsu-ya, creates a monthly company update that highlights employee awards and any new pivotal developments team members should know about. Opus offered Tatsu-ya the flexibility it needed to easily engage employees across various locations and concepts in this way.
For example, “When you have six different brands, each location might have different training protocols and service standards,” Rook says. “So we were trying to figure out how to make it clear that this is all one company with shared values, while embracing the individuality of each concept. One of the big things about Opus was that it made it so much easier to do that.”
A final area where Sanchez and Rook say Opus far exceeds the usefulness of the company’s previous LMS is in its ability to seamlessly translate courses and files into more than 100 global languages. Being a Texas-based restaurant company, Tatsu-ya employs many native Spanish speakers—so the multilingual nature of Opus is yet another area where the platform engages workers and meets them where they are.
“It’s simply a more efficient system,” Sanchez says of Opus. “Right now we’re in the process of opening BBQ Ramen Tatsu-ya, a new concept for us. I spent last week showing our members Opus. Literally on day two, they are asking, ‘Is this going to live on Opus? Can I find this later on Opus?’ That shows you how much it really resonates with them.
“The managers love it, too,” Sanchez continues. “The assistant GM is doing daily quizzes. Instead of printing out 40 copies of something that will end up never being read and stuffed in the backseat of their car, it’s keeping them engaged, all on the comfort of their phone.”
Multi-brand companies looking to engage their younger workers can visit the Opus website.