Fast Food and a Living Wage: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of Boloco

Mike O'Toole, President.In addition to running the day-to-day operations of PJA Advertising, Mike is the host of the Unconventionals Radio Show.

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Walk into a fast food restaurant and count the number of smiling employees. With the way fast food workers are paid, chances are your count won’t be too high. That’s the MO John Pepper, founder and former CEO of Boloco, tried to erase when he started the burrito chain. Pepper wanted to create a culture where employees received […]

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Walk into a fast food restaurant and count the number of smiling employees. With the way fast food workers are paid, chances are your count won’t be too high. That’s the MO John Pepper, founder and former CEO of Boloco, tried to erase when he started the burrito chain. Pepper wanted to create a culture where employees received better wages — which would lead to them caring more about their job and treating customers better. And hopefully the customers would be more satisfied with being treated well and it’d lead to future visits.

In this episode, I sit down with John Pepper. We discuss how John wanted to make a difference in the fast food industry by improving the wages of the people who work in it — and why that idea didn’t necessarily fly with key stakeholders.

You can also subscribe to The Unconventionals on iTunes and Stitcher. And be sure to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter as well.

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Eating Around Boston

Anna Albani, Account Manager. Aside from working at PJA, Anna enjoys eating, watching crime dramas, playing field hockey, watching football and cheering for the Celtics.

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“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” ― Orson Welles Every Saturday and Sunday I wake up and immediately ask what’s for breakfast – immediately after finishing breakfast I usually ask what’s for lunch and so on and so forth… The moral of the story is there’s nothing I enjoy more than eating and finding my […]

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.”

― Orson Welles

Every Saturday and Sunday I wake up and immediately ask what’s for breakfast – immediately after finishing breakfast I usually ask what’s for lunch and so on and so forth… The moral of the story is there’s nothing I enjoy more than eating and finding my next new favorite spot. So as it turns out, I have a number of favorite food establishments in and around Boston that I would like to share:

Regal Begal - 308 Harvard St Brookline, MA 02446‎ ($$)

The Regal Beagle located in Coolidge Corner, Brookline is a dimly lit narrow restaurant with small close tables. The executive chef is currently competing on the Bravo TV show Top Chef. The menu is always changing and features new entrees with seasonal ingredients. Despite having a menu full of surprises they do have a number of staples that make my mouth water, including the bacon wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese and topped with a vinaigrette and the Mac & Cheese with a Ritz cracker crust and truffle oil. In addition, the drink menu is full of clever concoctions you’ll love (not to mention they tend to be a little heavy handed with the booze).

Fins Boston – Chestnut Hill, Kenmore Square and Beacon Hill ($$)

Fins is great little sushi restaurant with fresh ingredients and an exciting menu. Of the sushi restaurants I’ve visited in Boston, it is by far the best. The menu is pretty extensive, but some of my favorites include the Snow Mountain Maki – a signature roll with crabmeat and a light mayo with shrimp tempura and avocado topped with coconut flakes and eel sauce. Additionally, their Miso soup is divine along with their crispy fried (or fresh) spring rolls. Even if you’re not a sushi lover you’ll be able to find something on the menu to please your palette.

American Provisions - 613 E Broadway, South Boston, MA 02127 ($$)

American Provisions is a quaint, little shop that sells cheeses, specialty beers, wine, milk in a bottle, and a variety of other little foodie items. In addition to the delectable little treats, they also have an incredible sandwich counter. The sandwiches range from about $7-10 and they’re made with tasty ingredients. My favorite, the Farm House, is a twist on a classic turkey and includes honey maple turkey, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, sharp honey mustard, and arugula on a ciabatta pocket.

Casa Razador  - 115 Water St, Boston, MA 02109 ($)

Forget the North End, Casa Razadora is the most authentic Italian food in Boston. Open only for lunch Monday - Friday this joint is boppin’ with downtown 9-5ers looking to stuff their faces with plentiful proportions. Although everything on their menu is amazing the specials are the items to wait in line for. On Thursday they serve Rosette (little Roses). Their rosette is made with homemade pasta that they wrap around cooked prosciutto and Fontina cheese and top generously with a cream sauce. It’s like heaven in a bite…no, but really!

P.S. They also cater! Hint, Hint…next office meeting, maybe?

Busy Bees Diner - 1046 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446 ($)

Busy Bees offers a quintessential diner experience. The waitresses are rude, the cooks are screaming and the food is good. Open Monday-Saturday this place offers great diner foods at diner prices. My go-to meals are the chocolate chip pancakes or a spinach, feta, mushroom and caramelized onion omelet. I like to accompany my meals with one of their scrumptious milk shakes (preferably chocolate for me). If you like breakfast foods then I guarantee you’ll like Busy Bee’s!

 

So there you have it. A couple of great spots to try! Let them know Anna sent you and they’ll probably sit you at the best table in the house (Don’t try that, you’ll just embarrass yourself)

More from this author:

    Shocking Discovery: Millennials are people too. I actually work with some.

    Jeremiah O'Connor, Sr. Developer. In addition to working at PJA, Jeremiah enjoys long walks in the woods, brown dogs, and chinese noodles.

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    2014 is the year of the millennials. The term anyways. The Google result for the term “millennials” sums it up succinctly: a person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000; a Generation Y-er. “the industry brims with theories on what makes millennials tick”   Millennials are defined as those now ranging in age from 18 […]

    2014 is the year of the millennials. The term anyways.

    The Google result for the term “millennials” sums it up succinctly:

    a person reaching young adulthood

    around the year 2000; a Generation Y-er.

    “the industry brims with theories on

    what makes millennials tick”

     

    Millennials are defined as those now ranging in age from 18 to 31 and, yes, everyone wants to know what makes them tick. Every day there are new articles on millennials and the job market, millennials and real estate, millennials and technology, etc.

    It turns out Generations, as with any demographic, can and will be measured, analyzed, and quite often stereotyped. The current millennial stereotype goes something like this: smartphone obsessed, boomerang child back home with the helicopter parents, has an enormous amount of student loan debt, dropped out of the too-tuff post-recession job market, and has no plans to marry or buy a home.

    However, if you are like me, you might know or even work with a few. Sure at times they appear to be a bunch of undisciplined kids giggling over their “Tinders” and “Selfies”. But truthfully, they aren’t all that bad. The millennials I know are some of the most interesting, passionate, and hardworking people I’ve met. They are also photographers, videographers, volunteers, workout enthusiasts, magicians, and competitive eaters.

    In advertising and marketing it is easy to see certain demographics in neat one size fits all stereotypes but the truth is much more interesting and human.

     

    PJA Millennials

    PJA Millennials

    P.S. If you are as tired of the term “millennials” as I am may I suggest the browser extension “Millennials Begone”. It replaces all html text of  ’millennial’ with ‘pesky whipper-snapper’.

    How to Achieve Mental Clarity in 30 Seconds

    Jonny Snow, Studio Designer. After growing up on the mean streets of Potomac, Maryland, Jonny moved to Boston for school and graduated BU with a BFA in Graphic Design. Two years of pharmaceutical marketing and countless glasses of Lagavulin later, Jonny joined PJA to assist their creative team with everything from pitch presentations to creative concepts to final products. In his spare time, you can find him at the gym flexing in the mirror.

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    I fell in love with advertising about ten years ago. And I know exactly which spot sparked it: a Starburst commercial. The way the character convulses at the 12 second mark. His facial expressions. His timely delivery. To me, this is advertising at its finest. It doesn’t just establish brand personality for Starburst, it allows […]

    I fell in love with advertising about ten years ago. And I know exactly which spot sparked it: a Starburst commercial.

    The way the character convulses at the 12 second mark. His facial expressions. His timely delivery. To me, this is advertising at its finest. It doesn’t just establish brand personality for Starburst, it allows the viewer to enter a world where negativity doesn’t exist. The personal and professional challenges we face everyday affect our emotional well-being and it’s easy to focus solely on the bad aspects. But for those 30 seconds, you’re reminded that life isn’t meant to be taken so seriously. You can’t help but laugh. Or if you can’t find the humor in it, you acknowledge its oddity. And that’s the brilliance of it: it’s not about the product, it’s about you.

    Obviously, there are a thousand creative minds behind these campaigns. They research their audience’s interests, they develop the strategy that will generate the largest increase in revenue. It’s practically scientific. But, perhaps unconsciously, they’re also reminding people to stop for a moment and just laugh. Laugh at the absurdity. Laugh at the world we live in. Laugh and find peace in knowing you can’t control everything.

    My goal as a creative person in this field is to build campaigns that invoke that same sense of euphoria. We aren’t just selling cloud software or candy, we’re letting people know that life doesn’t have to be so stressful. In our own absurd way, we’re here to help.

    Why not enjoy some Berries & Creme while you’re at it?

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      “When my wife calls, remind me that her name is Caroline.”

      Chris Frame, VP, Creative Director. Chris Frame, VP Creative Director. Chris has been at PJA for 17 years and has seen it go through several epochs, which other, younger people at the agency like to remind him of.

      cortanaad
      Over the last seven months, Microsoft has been running ads for their mobileOS digital assistant, Cortana. The ads feature Cortana going head to head (or voice to voice) against Siri. Cortana tells Siri, “When Kevin’s girlfriend texts, I can remind him to say happy birthday.” In another, we hear Cortana being asked by her owner, […]

      Over the last seven months, Microsoft has been running ads for their mobileOS digital assistant, Cortana. The ads feature Cortana going head to head (or voice to voice) against Siri. Cortana tells Siri, “When Kevin’s girlfriend texts, I can remind him to say happy birthday.” In another, we hear Cortana being asked by her owner, “When my wife calls, remind me to tell her happy anniversary,” and Cortana responds, “The next time you talk to ‘Caroline,’ I’ll remind you.” These ads do a nice job charmingly cutting down Siri’s awkward robo-affect while touting Cortana’s clever features.

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      Being reminded that your friend Gary’s wife is named Gillian and that‘s with a hard “G,” I could completely have used that. But “Wish your wife happy anniversary?” It raises a big question. What kind of relationships do the creators of these ads have?

      I think I know. I suspect that one of them may have a secret second family. “Cortana, when my wife ‘Caroline’ calls, remind me to say happy anniversary,” makes so much more sense when you imagine that Caroline’s kids, Beth and Moria, have never thought it strange that Daddy only stays with them half the week and every other weekend.

      “Cortana, refer to me as “Don” when I’m in the 68008 zip code.”

      “Cortana, remind me that my only sibling, Dougie — the one who supposedly looks like Beth — died when he was 16 and that the anniversary is coming.”

      “Cortana, when I’m by the photo store, remind me to get some old frames for that extra set of parent portraits I had printed.”

      “Cortana, remind me of Moria’s horrible nut allergies when I cross the Nebraska border.”

       

      Say hello to Cortana, Don.