Carrie Luxem is the founder and CEO of Restaurant HR Group, Inc. and Carrie Luxem LLC, is the author of Restaurant Operator’s HR Playbook and Soft Skills Playbook, and is laser-focused on her mission to create more restaurant and leadership success stories.
With a career that has spanned over 20 years, Carrie is frequently sought out for her modern yet simple and effective advice. She has been named as one of the top 50 women innovators in the restaurant industry. She has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc Magazine, Restaurant News, Pizza Today, and Independent Restaurateur. She is the host of her own weekly show, The Carrie Luxem Show, has a weekly column with 1851 Franchising, and has appeared on several radio shows and dozens of restaurant industry and business-focused podcasts.
One of my earliest examples of what a passionate and determined work ethic looks like occurred when I was just 10 years old. Around this time, I began helping my father with his small business — a manufacturing facility specializing in tool and die in my hometown of Rockford, Illinois. At this impressionable age, each step of business ownership seemed foreign and yet absolutely thrilling to me. I took in every second and kept a careful eye on my father's behavior, like the respect with which he treated each customer and the graciousness he wasn't afraid to verbalize to his employees.
Watching him, I learned the true meaning of entrepreneurship. He ingrained in me the need to demonstrate a dedication to one's craft, the importance of putting forth your most diligent effort, and the perseverance, honesty, and integrity it takes to own a successful business. From really early on in my life, I just knew that I would follow in his footsteps, forever chasing that euphoric sense of accomplishment, birthing new ideas, and molding them together into flowing processes.
And so it began. At age 15, I took my first paid position working at the local Dairy Queen. Even though the work was often hot, sticky, and just plain messy, it felt like I had found my place. The management team there had a lasting and significant impact on me, and ultimately, the trajectory of my life and career. This is where the seeds of love for the restaurant industry were planted and where I witnessed how being a truly effective leader and a genuine, caring human being can resonate with a team of employees, regardless of their diverse backgrounds.
Throughout my teens and early twenties, I continued to work in various restaurants and positions, learning a lot about their inner workings, the business side of things, and loads about how to lead people effectively. In addition to those jobs, I continued to "side hustle" for most of my youth and early adulthood. I began testing the entrepreneurial waters, stretching my wings, and forming small business ventures. From cleaning windows for local restaurants to designing balloon arches for Home Depot to coordinating job fair events to opening a flower shop, I had my share of hits and misses.
In 1997, I moved from my little hometown to Chicago. Thankfully, I quickly found my way, landing positions in the city's bustling restaurants and nightclubs.
Within a year, fate intervened when I crossed paths with Bryant Keil, the visionary behind Potbelly Sandwich Works. At that time, Potbelly had three locations, but they had exciting plans for the company's future. And needless to say, I wanted in. Then, with so much excitement, in June of 1999, I was brought on as Potbelly's Director of Human Resources.
For more than a decade, I worked in this amazing role, surrounded by talented people and doing the work I loved. Through the development and restructuring of Potbelly's recruiting process and HR functions, those three restaurants bloomed into more than 200 restaurants in ten markets.
But after an incredible career with Potbelly, I had a vision of my own.
In 2010, I founded Restaurant HR Group, where we partner with restaurant groups from coast to coast and manage their HR, payroll, and benefits administration and compliance and assist with employee relations matters.
In 2017, I founded Carrie Luxem, LLC, where I am laser-focused on my mission to create more restaurant and leadership success stories through my books, training workshops, and my show, The Carrie Luxem Show (a 5-minute weekly show designed to help you grow!). I am the author of Restaurant Operator's HR Playbook, published in 2018, and am working on my second book, a social skills playbook, which will be published in April 2022.
I do, of course, have a life outside of my professional goals and aspirations. I am a mom of two amazing boys, Keegan and Logan, and am married to an incredible man and the love of my life, John (who also happens to be a fabulous restaurant operator and amazing leader). In my spare time, I love to hang out with my family, travel the world, learn from successful entrepreneurs and business people, and go to as many Pitbull shows as possible. Yep, you heard that right; I am a total Pitbull fangirl!