Few businesses place employee advocacy at the very top of their to-do list, and even fewer put an equal emphasis on environmentally conscious practices. The owners of Salsa Fresca Mexican Grill boldly decided to do just that, and have made tremendous gains in the process.
The casual Mexican food chain has been expanding rapidly, now boasting six locations throughout Westchester County and the surrounding area. Co-owners of Salsa Fresca Mexican Grill—John Tucker, Seth Hirschel, Marc Miles, and Dave Norris—made a commitment early on to put their staff and the Earth first with a range of employee benefits and programs, as well as a number of environmentally sustainable practices.
Tucker, who came up with the idea for the restaurant while living in San Diego, notes that full-time employees are entitled to “a profit-sharing program, paid sick leave, and paid holiday and vacation time. We also have an upward mobility program, which gives our employees the opportunity to grow through the ranks and to be a part of something that’s really unique.”
Unlike several other food service businesses, Salsa Fresca’s upward mobility program truly lifts entry-level employees to the highest ranks. Eduardo Chacon, Salsa Fresca’s general manager, began as a burrito-roller in the company’s first location. Similarly, Salsa Fresca’s district manager, Sarah Miles, worked her way up from a position as cashier.
“We wanted to reward our staff for working hard, and to give them opportunities to take ownership of their part in the company,” adds co-owner Marc Miles. “They have direct control on serving a great product and great customer service, which results in great profit sharing.”
Salsa Fresca’s advocacy does not end with employees, however. The restaurant chain also maintains a strong commitment to fostering sustainable environmental practices. “All of our to-go packaging, utensils, and napkins are compostable; and our district managers use Smart Cars, which get 50 miles to the gallon,” says Miles. “All of our construction is natural and non-toxic, we use high efficiency cooling and lighting, and we recycle our frying oil into bio-diesel fuel.”
Tucker believes that such practices are vital to both preserving the environment and providing an example to other businesses. “We have to do our part to reduce our carbon footprint,” he says. “We hope it inspires people to do the same.”
And companies should certainly take note, as Salsa Fresca has quickly expanded throughout New York and Connecticut over the last seven years. “We’re growing in the right direction and plan on being at 10 locations by the end of next year,” notes Miles. “Carmel is our next location and we’re negotiating leases in other markets. We’re proud to be where we are because our first location was in Dutchess County in 2008, and we’ve come a very long way since then.”