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Daniel Frankel, Tap & Barrel Group’s founder and chief executive officerHandout

Even as the pandemic ravaged the hospitality industry, leaving it short of supplies and staff as inflation shrank profit margins, Tap and Barrel—a Vancouver-based restaurant chain and long-standing member of Canada’s Best Managed Companies—hit the ground running this summer. The business opened two new locations, including an 850-seat behemoth on Granville Island (the largest restaurant in Western Canada), with another North Burnaby restaurant planned for late 2023. Its pillar of strength amid the most challenging business conditions the industry’s seen in decades, according to founder and CEO Daniel Frankel, is a people-focused culture and commitment to prioritizing internal growth.

“We work to make the potential trajectory through the company as transparent as possible,” says Frankel. From the road to head chef to corporate office jobs, opportunities to move up within the company are made crystal clear to employees—including via literal flowcharts on the wall of kitchens and staff rooms. “Some of our people are only with us for the summer, and that’s fine. But for those who see hospitality as a long-term path, we want them to know there’s room to grow with us. We also like to promote the fact that hospitality is multifaceted, so there’s a place for you whether you’re interested in cooking, marketing, or even real estate, to name a few paths.” For instance, Tap and Barrel’s marketing director, Kira Enos, started her career as a server.

A robust training and development program is also available to team members. The company identifies high-potential employees and trains them through an extensive TAP Leadership Program, which covers everything from communication skills to supply chain and accounting principles. The idea is to encourage internal growth as much as possible—and to keep employees engaged and motivated.

When people like their work environment, Frankel says, they’re also more likely to recruit their friends. Most of Tap and Barrel’s team growth is down to referrals—no small boon in an industry plagued by post-pandemic staffing shortages. “Who doesn’t like working with their friends? That helps incentivize people to bring their friends onto the team,” he says. “There’s also a cash incentive for recruitment.” Some industry advocates have also called for wage increases as a way to tackle people shortages and employee burnout, but Frankel wouldn’t share details about employee compensation.