Learning to Fly as Firebirds Focuses on Training Talent to Grow the Brand

To fulfill its mission to “serve, enrich and exceed,” Firebirds Wood Fired Grill management recently created a position to focus on developing its talent pool and growing results within the company. Tammy Calhoun was brought on to serve as Director of Learning with responsibilities such as designing, building and implementing internal learning strategies.

“The development of people is crucial for a company experiencing quick growth,” said Vice President of Human Resources Charles Blankenship. “Our training has always been very effective and has contributed to our industry-leading retention rates. However, we are always working to improve and, as the company continues to grow, we identified this as an area to help build the brand and establish Firebirds as an innovative industry leader.”

The development of people is crucial for a company experiencing quick growth

The polished-casual restaurant currently has 38 restaurants across the country specializing in classic American cuisine grilled over an authentic wood-fired grill. Previously, the company employed traditional training methods as well as an eLearning initiative. Blankenship expects the breadth of Calhoun’s position and training initiatives will continue to evolve in perpetuity. 

“The company has experienced rapid growth,” he said. “At different points in the life of a company, it must be managed differently. Training has always been a huge focus and is very time consuming. The inflection point that led to the creation of this position is the size of the company and the new restaurants opening in the next few years.”

Tammy Calhoun
Tammy Calhoun

In previous positions, Calhoun handled management training and development for Cracker Barrel and O’Charleys. A member of the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers (CHART) since 2005, she was selected as conference director for CHART’s 92nd annual Hospitality Training Conference in July 2016. For four years, she has also participated in the Women’s Foodservice Forum.

“People have always been our primary focus,” said Blankenship. “Tammy will continue to build on this and add value in many ways. We anticipate improvements across the board.  Selection, training and environment. Recruiting, training and marketing all contribute to building the brand. Tammy’s background speaks for itself. She has been exposed to many facets of the industry and has excelled at each.  More important than her background is herself. She has an infectious personality and tons of energy to complement her expertise.”