By Anne O'Connor
TOWNSEND -- A group of food service workers are getting more than a paycheck thanks to an innovative couple and a state grant.
Pam and Al Mariano plan to give their employees a share of the profits, and a step up in developing business skills and life-long financial skills.
The staff will learn about the company financials, making a profit, and personal finances.
The couple owns Mariano's in Pepperell, Bailey's Bar and Grille and Bailey's on the Green in Townsend. They are in the process of opening Alamo in Brookline, N.H., and plan to open a take-out restaurant in Townsend, Mariano's Express.
Employees will take 36 weeks of classes in open-book management with Henry Patterson of the Delta Group will help them throughout their lives, Pam Mariano said.
"We want to treat people the way we want to be treated," she said. The couple wants to do the best they can for their employees and their communities. Profit-sharing and financial literacy is part of the picture.
Restaurant employees are typically not well-paid and some of the Mariano employees will go on to other work, she said. For some, the restaurant work helps pay for college.
Patterson and his team plan to teach the 60-plus employees to be part of the success of the business: how to be a better team, how to read the books, how to choose menu items that are profitable.
"We're going to be showing you the actual financials of the restaurant," he said during the first class held at Bailey's on March 21. "We want you to think like somebody who uses financials to run the business."
Pam Mariano will end up with 60 colleagues, instead of 60 employees, Patterson said.
Using open-book management in a restaurant is radical, he said. The practice is more common in manufacturing.
Only a few food-service businesses across the country use it. Six are in the Boston area, thanks to Delta, Patterson said.
The Mariano restaurants have used Patterson's consulting services for a few years. When they heard about open-book management they wanted to bring to their restaurants.
But running a restaurant does not bring in huge profits. They didn't have the money.
"When we finished with the investment, we had zero left," Al Mariano said.
"You don't pay for it," Patterson told them. "You get a grant."
So they did.
The Workforce Training Fund Grant was formally announced on March 19. Of the $7.9 million awarded to 111 Massachusetts companies, Bailey's Bar and Grille received $63,550.
The grant from the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development was funded by payroll taxes, Pam Mariano said.
The restaurant must match the state grant. Pam thought that, too, might be insurmountable. Then she found out the match does not have to be monetary.
The restaurant will pay their employees to attend the classes, an expense she estimated at about $1,000 per week. They will also provide a meal and classroom space.
"Trust us, this is going to beneficial for you," she told her employees.
Happy employees make for happy guests, Patterson said. "Ultimately, it boils down to being a great place to work."