Lead by example. That’s the philosophy that CHEF RYAN PERA of Agricole Hospitality (the parent company of Coltivare, Revival Market and Eight Row Flint) lives by when it comes to health and wellness. Pera has seen firsthand the benefits that eating well and daily exercise can have on productivity and morale. Four years ago, after sustaining a back injury (while butchering a pig) that sidelined him in the kitchen, the chef committed to getting into shape and creating a workout regimen he could balance with his busy lifestyle. Shifts in his routine, including lunchtime workouts at Timberline Fitness in Montrose and training for 5Ks, 10Ks and long distance charity bike rides, helped the restaurateur lose 50 pounds and inspire his employees to make wellness a priority in the process.
Pera doesn’t have a fixed wellness plan or initiative to get his employees active, and he doesn’t need to. His employees took notice and have started to make shifts themselves. And the company not only encourages employees to get active, it supports them. Three years ago, six employees, including Chef Ryan, ran the Rodeo Run 10K together. “It started out as a bet. To see who could beat him,” Layne Cruz, General Manager of Revival Market explained. “Chef Ryan challenged us to run the race faster than him. Even though I knew I couldn’t beat him, it was exciting for me to set a goal and run a race for the first time.”
This past March, Agricole Hospitality had 19 runners represented in the Rodeo Run 10K. “It’s just the thing we do now,” said Cruz. “People from each restaurant, from managers to bussers, get together to run the race. Some of us even train together; it’s great team bonding.” The company fronts the cost, including Ubers to the race, and Pera supports his team by offering training and racing advice. And while Cruz still hasn’t beat Pera in a 10K, she’s challenged herself to run faster and train smarter each year. The discipline and motivation that Pera exhibits in his work and wellness inspires employees like Cruz. “It puts things into perspective – the fact that he runs three restaurants and keeps healthy means there are no excuses for me. I can make time and have the discipline, too!”
In addition to creating the space and resources for employees to run the annual Rodeo Run, Pera also joined employees last year to cycle a 100-miles to Dallas with Chefs Cycle, a fundraising endurance event that brings the culinary community together to fight childhood hunger. Agricole Hospitality not only supported the participating employees in their training efforts, but also in their fundraising efforts by hosting team events opposed to individual fundraising. This May, two employees will represent Agricole Hospitality in the Chefs Cycle 300-mile ride in Santa Rosa, California. All supported by the company and Pera.
Pera’s next goal is to create more wellness resources for the employees of his three restaurants. All three of his restaurants have different hours which has made the group training a challenge. Pera’s aspiration is to create a gym space for employees to work out on their own time, or negotiate a membership trade with a local fitness facility. His philosophy is all about leading by example and guiding his employees by providing the resources they need so they can choose to live better on their own terms. “I want to support them in any way I can in getting a healthier mindset.”