Pay It Forward | Get Their Motors Running

The restaurant industry is known for high turnover, but Paul Khoury, the founder and owner of PB&J Restaurants, has come up with an eye-popping incentive for workers: free Harley-Davidsons.

“The whole Harley thing came about totally by accident,” said Khoury, who is celebrating 25 years in business. The company’s properties include YaYa’s Euro Bistro, Newport Grill and several Red Robin franchises.

Years ago, a new chef named Josh kept quizzing Khoury about benefits and incentives. How much time off would he get if he stayed with the company for two, four, 10 years? Finally, Josh asked what he’d get if he stuck around 15 years.

“I said, ‘Josh, what do you want?’ He said, ‘I want a Harley.’”

Over the years, PB&J Restaurants has presented more than 30 motorcycles to employees. If you go into a PB&J property, a lot of workers can tell you exactly how long until they get their Harley, whether that’s three weeks or 13 years.

PB&J Restaurants operates 14 eateries in four states—with four new restaurants planned in Overland Park and Chicago.

“We’ve got good concepts, but we need people to execute them,” Khoury said. “My job right now has just become recruiting the right people.”

The Harley is a nice long-range goal for employees. (Some of whom don’t even ride; they just keep the bikes polished and gleaming on their front porches.) But it’s even more important to offer good benefits and, if an employee has temporary troubles in their personal lives, to stick with them, Khoury said.

“If you take good care of your employees, and treat them fairly, they’ll stay with you,” said Khoury.