- &pizza, a Washington, D.C.-based fast casual concept with more than 35 units on the East Coast, announced Wednesday that it is testing a "Lyft for Late Nights," a discounted ride-share program for its employees, according to Restaurant Business, which offers flat fare ride-share coverage of $4.50 for its employees who travel between 11 p.m. and 5:30 a.m.
- The program offers a flat fare of $4.50 to help cover ride-share costs for employees traveling between 11 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
- The program is now available in seven locations for a three-month pilot period.
The pilot builds on both companies' initiatives to support their employees. &pizza, for example, was recently featured in Bloomberg Businessweek for paying a living wage. Given the high turnover and labor shortage plaguing the industry lately, restaurants in general have been increasing benefits to maintain the employees they have and attract new ones. Chains like Chipotle, Starbucks, Noodles & Company and many independents have been adopting generous benefits packages this year. A Bay Area bar owner also covers late-night ride-share rides for employees as a way to retain staff, especially those that live far away from the bar.
Partnerships with Lyft are opening up transportation benefits for many independents as well. Lyft launched a program for foodservice workers in July in Boston, many of whom work late-night hours at bars and restaurants. According to the Boston Globe, about 70 employees at three different restaurants use the service for a base fare of $3.50, subsidized by their restaurant group and Lyft. One consultant told the publication that subsidized rides may help restaurants provide better service.
It also gives restaurants an added incentive in a uniquely tight labor market in which turnover and retention rates have hindered the industry. Still, such a benefit isn’t necessarily a new idea. Uber for Business launched in 2017, offering late-night rides (among other services) for employers to offer their employees.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, these types of transit and parking benefits are increasing thanks to ride-share companies, and they have the potential to increase workers' engagement. They can also remove a major barrier for some employees, particularly those with non-traditional hours. According to the American Public Transportation Association, late-night public transit services aren't as ubiquitous as daytime services, and many late-night jobs therefore require a car to travel home. The association adds that partnering with services like Lyft may be more cost-effective to operate than fixed-route bus service.
For &pizza, this pilot has the potential to drive employee loyalty, as well as a tax incentive and positive PR. As restaurant companies pull out all the stops to recruit and retain employees, these partnerships could become more common across the industry, which has the most public transit commuters of any other industry by far.