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Swap Beer for Barbells

Swap Beer for Barbells

Adopting a healthier lifestyle can boost performance at work

While a party culture pervades the restaurant industry, many people have started to eschew that lifestyle to balance it with more wellness to their lives. 

In the last few years, there’s been a rise in a “sober curious” lifestyle, driven by the millennial generation, where people seek to drink little to no alcohol. This has become evident through the introduction of many low-alcohol drinks to zero-proof, spirit-free cocktails.  

Many restaurants have started phasing out the idea of a “shift drink,” often due to an owner or chef getting sober and wanting to change the culture in his or her restaurant. It sets a different tone that many staffers start to follow.  

“We don’t have a shift-drink culture here,” says Yasmin Roberti, the newly sober general manager of Philadelphia’s K’Far, an Israeli-inspired bakery that’s part of chef Michael Solomonov’s CookNSolo restaurant group.  

Solomonov, now sober, very publicly spoke of his addiction to drugs and alcohol. “I see that arc when [younger people] first come into the restaurant, they can get swept up into that party culture. People realize at a certain point they’ll feel better if they’re working out instead of partying. [This business] is stressful and you need that release.” 

CookNSolo offers some free sessions with local therapists if someone needs assistance overcoming alcohol or drugs, and it also encourages open dialogue around wellness and fitness, which is becoming more common. 

“I talk about my consumption and how that’s changed,” says Andrew Volk, owner of Little Giant and Hunt + Alpine Club in Portland, Maine, who stopped drinking regularly in January 2019 and quickly lost 35 pounds.  

“If you open up about what’s going on with you, it allows people to see they can make other choices. Not drinking or being more focused on wellness and exercise helps you when you are at work to be a better employee.” 

Helping people move their careers forward by learning new skills has become a passion for Ryan Pfeiffer, executive chef at Chicago’s Blackbird restaurant. He launched a program called After School Demos, a late-night culinary classroom for Blackbird employees and other local cooks. Instead of hitting the bars, Pfeiffer invites people to learn advanced techniques like breaking down a whole pig or how to make a French galantine.

“I hear more often than not, nowadays, that the new generation of cooks is not as dedicated as when ‘we’ were coming up in the kitchen,” Pfeiffer says. “Perhaps in part to lifestyle choices like partying too much after work, lack of self-care, or due to the tremendous amount of stress and hours put into the restaurant.  

“I wanted to change that thought by offering an off-the-clock space with the potential for knowledge and growth. It’s amazing how many people will show up just to learn something new, even after they worked the entire day and are more than likely exhausted.” 

Normally we might suggest raising a glass to that idea, but instead, why not go for a run or do some yoga?