Improving Company Culture or Why You Should Start “Taco Thursday”

If you know anything about Algonquin Studios, you know that we have a deep-rooted love of food.  It seems to be something that really stands out when describing our company culture (heck, even our monthly F.E.A.S.T. was explained to me in my initial job interview).  I’d been thinking we should keep the food ball rolling, and when a local brewery tweeted “Today is Taco Tuesday,” my gears started turning… Why not have our own taco day here at Algonquin?  After all, who doesn’t love tacos?

So, I pulled the trigger and composed an e-mail to my coworkers presenting the idea, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. I proposed a build-your-own taco bar, allowing each person to pick and choose the toppings they want. Everyone who eats chips in for the day’s ingredients and we all seem to agree that $3 for lunch is a relative steal compared to lunch elsewhere downtown.

Our first Taco Thursday was an overall a success. Each person seemed to be happy with the lunch received and I was encouraged by all to do it again. Over the following weeks, we’ve had our ups (shredded pork, with leftovers to boot) and downs (cubed chicken, which we ran out of before everyone was served) but, for the most part, it has been a terrific undertaking and it’s quite easy, not very much work ever goes in to the preparation.  If you’re looking to boost your company culture, and enjoy some fantastic Tex-Mex as well, you should consider hosting your own!

Taco Fixin's

In case you do decide to start making tacos for your beloved coworkers, I’ll share with you some of the things I’ve learned from experience:

  • Collect money BEFORE you get your final count of how many are eating.  Unforeseen circumstances can prevent people from showing up, causing you to eat the cost of their meal.
  • Buy more food than you think you need. My biggest mishap to date was running out of chicken before each person had eaten their first plate – it’s better to have too much (and leftovers!) than too little.
  • Shop at wholesale stores. Ingredients in bulk (cheese, sour cream, taco seasoning, etc.) are ridiculously cheap there compared to grocery stores.
  • Prepare as much as possible at home.  For example, I cook and drain the ground beef at home – the next day, I place it on the stove top with taco seasoning and water and let it slow cook until lunch is served.
  • Rotate ingredients. Try to change things up, whether it’s your protein, salsa, toppings, etc. And additions like rice and black beans help stretch the total number of tacos that can be enjoyed – use them!
  • Don’t be afraid to turn people away if necessary. You can only cook so much food and it’s better to let people know right away if there won’t be enough for latecomers.

As cliche as it sounds, Algonquin Studios is a tight-knit family, and we’re constantly thinking of ways to bring our family together.  If you think your company could benefit by a weekly social gathering, why not try your hand at Taco Thursday as well?  Remember, there’s no such thing as too much employee morale – one of the reasons my co-workers love working here is because it’s flat out a good time, and being able to spend quality time with one another is just one of the many reasons why.

Feel free to leave a comment if you think this may be something you are interested in trying! I’d be more than happy to answer any questions or offer advice. Taco Thursday has been a marvelous experience and has helped further strengthen our company culture – nothing says togetherness like co-workers laughing and stuffing their faces with tacos.  ¡Olé!