By Patty Verzo on April 4, 2017
Sure, there are many noteworthy things about working for big companies. But the recent rise of start-ups also indicates how interesting it would be to work in one.
Take the La Lola Group, for example. Founded and owned by dynamic and passionate young entrepreneurs, the company is behind and in charge of maintaining five different dining concepts: Rambla, Las Flores, Tomatito, Rico Rico Paelleria, and of course — the well-loved and prolific Churerria La Lola.
Committed to serving Spanish food with a fun twist, the company’s food ventures have all been widely praised and are currently some of the most popular places to eat. Making these concepts work, however, is not just about the cooking and the dining.
Behind La Lola Group’s restaurants is a team of talented people who share a passion for food, and are committed to leaving a great impression not only to diners, but also to those who work in La Lola restaurants — from the restaurant staff to the operations team.
It’s no brainer that working in a company like this will expose you to interesting flavors, whether it’s food or work experience, but there’s a lot more to the La Lola team that makes a career in this company even more promising. We sat down with some members of the La Lola team to find out why working here was one of the best decisions they’ve ever made:
Communicating with team members and management is easy as pie
One of the advantages of working in a small company is that there’s little to no trouble when it comes to conveying opinions and ideas to higher-ups. In La Lola, the heads of the company are literally just a few feet away from you. Especially for creative individuals bursting with ideas, it definitely helps to know that it’s easy to share your ideas with the right people whenever you need it.
It also helps to know that the you are under the leadership of hands-on bosses, who aren’t afraid to get down and dirty when the need arises. As HR Officer Jessica Saldaña told us, “If you have concerns, they will listen. They will always try to find solutions.”
Everyone washes the dishes — even the bosses
La Lola recognizes potential, and initiative is definitely rewarded. They are proud of taking care of their employees well, and this includes making sure that every employee is well compensated, salary-wise.
More than being taken care of, La Lola employees don’t just work for their bosses, they work with them. There are no egos: a quality that both Jessica, and Jam Rodrigo, La Lola’s brand ambassador, admire.
“You see them working,” Jam told us. “When we open [a new restaurant], they take orders, they clean, and they wash dishes. They’re very hands-on about operations. They go around asking customers how they are, and how the food is.”
But it’s not just about being in the front lines. Jessica recounted a story when their newest restaurant, Tomatito, had a shortage of dishwashers. In fact, there was only one dishwasher that day.
“It was on a weekend, Sunday. Super busy,” Jessica said.
“The new restaurant manager, the operations manager, the executive chef, the sous chef, and even the head chef of Las Flores who came over straight after closing up [the restaurant] — they took turns washing dishes. All the people in the top positions, they took turns washing dishes.”
That would have been a sight to see, definitely. More importantly, it highlights what it’s like to work in La Lola Group: no one is excluded from washing the dishes when times get rough.
Work-life balance is a basic and indispensable seasoning
Yes, we know what you’re thinking: that’s impossible! But at La Lola, you’ll find that not only is it possible, it’s also quite real. You can ask Jessica herself.
“I came from a call center setting, [from] recruitment as well,” she said. “I gave that up for work-life balance. I found it here.”
Unlike her previous job, she never has to bring her work from La Lola home, and she actually had to adjust to the fact that she could leave work on time.
“I remember still sitting at my desk [when I started in La Lola], and my officemates asking me why I wasn’t going home yet,” she said, chuckling at her situation then. It was so new to her to be free to leave when the clock struck 6 PM.
Weekends are also strictly off-limits, unless there’s an urgent need to accomplish something.
“As much as possible, the Management also want us to spend time with our families, and to have weekends,” Jess added.
“They prefer that you maximize your time in the office. To them, the work hours should be more than enough.”
Challenges come with a serving of camaraderie and a whole lot of growth
Being in the Food and Beverage business is no easy task, and the La Lola Group handles five different F&B concepts. The company’s size makes it easy to communicate with each other, but being small, working with 4 restaurant concepts and 226 employees in total can get pretty challenging.
But what the company lacks in size, it makes up for in community.
“We’re fun to work with,” Jam assured us. “I take the stress and the challenges as a positive.”
The great team also comes with great growth opportunities. Jessica has only been in the company for three months, but already she appreciates how much she’s learned.
“It really builds your character, and motivates you to do well, especially because you see people around you doing well, too,” Jessica said.
La Lola fosters a sense of community within their office that not only warmly welcomes their employees, but also makes them want to stay. And in some cases, come back: like Jam, who has been with La Lola practically since its inception.
She resigned as restaurant manager late 2015, but came back soon after, and made her way to becoming brand ambassador.
“I just wanted to rest first,” she explained. “After that, they contacted me. They offered. They always ask me how I am. They asked me if I’ve found a new job. They knew my plans before I left; they knew what I wanted. I wanted to work in an office. I wanted to spend more time at home.”
Growth is the key and inevitable ingredient
It’s not possible to work in La Lola and not notice your personal development. In this company, you are encouraged to take risks, to be creative, and to contribute. If they see your potential, your hard work, they do their very best to make sure you are recognized for it.
Jam’s own journey is a proof of this. We’ve mentioned that she’s been with the company for many years, left and returned, but what you have to know is that she really started from the ground up.
Las Flores was just starting out then, and she was learning the ropes while the company was also only beginning to really plant its feet on the ground.
“I learned how to be a strong person, and I learned how to be a professional.”
She later on became Las Flores manager, and worked there for two years, and was even involved with opening Rambla.
“I resigned September 2015, and then after three months, joined La Lola Group as area manager early last year. They then promoted me last November or December as a Brand Ambassador.”
Jessica also shared with us her own experience. As someone who had grown up in the F&B business (their family used to own a restaurant), this was an industry she really wanted to be in. But she decided to join a BPO company first, which had admittedly many benefits, but was not what she was looking for.
“Before, I only knew about recruitment [and] sourcing,” she said. “But now [in La Lola] I’m learning about training, talking to different people. There’s going to be a training program soon, and I’m going to be part of it. And that’s really something I wanted to venture into when I graduated.”
If the way employees talk about a company is anything to go by, then La Lola is definitely one that cares. La Lola is a community that helps you build your own wings so you can fly as high as you can, a community that allows you to go out and grow, to become not just a better employee, but a stronger, more well-rounded person — the perfect recipe for any career-driven individual out there.