Brett Ables knows a thing or two about Auburn restaurants.
He got his start working at both Hamilton’s on Magnolia and Jimmy John’s while taking classes at Southern Union State Community College, and he says he fell in love with what he calls the “stressful chaos” of the restaurant industry.
“Auburn was just a really unique place to work,” he said. “There’s so many people that come into town, there’s just this amazing atmosphere around the city. I just really fell in love with working in the restaurant space.”
Now he’s developed an app called Croux to help restaurant workers in Auburn juggle multiple jobs.
Ables lived in Auburn for 10 years before moving in 2016 to Birmingham, where he runs a catering business called Feast.
Last October, he and his business partners launched Croux (pronounced Crew), in the Birmingham area. Croux is an app that allows restaurant workers the flexibility to work where they want when they need to. The concept is similar to rideshare apps like Uber.
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Within a month of launching in Birmingham, Croux already had 300 people ready to work through the app, with an additional 300 waiting to be vetted.
“They’ve signed on in waves,” Ables said. “A lot of people want to use this platform and work. They just needed the flexibility that it provides. And then on the business side, we’ve been very fortunate to have some success with a lot of restaurant partners up here.”
Now Ables is bringing Croux to Auburn.
“I love the area and I’m very excited that we’re about to have the opportunity to come back down there and get involved,” Ables said. “What’s truly special about that area is restaurant people really are like family in Auburn.”
Ables says the Croux app is beneficial to both workers and employers. He calls it a “dual-sided” app that allows businesses to easily connect with talented people who need flexibility.
“That helps the talent because they’re able to access jobs that they wouldn’t typically be able to access, and it helps businesses because they’re able to tap into talent that they wouldn’t normally be able to access,” Ables said.
If a restaurant knows it will need someone on a Friday night from 5-10, that business can post its schedule and the skills needed onto Coux’s app. On the worker side of the app, someone who knows they will be available at that time can apply. The restaurant still has the ability to vet the applicant. If the person gets hired, they get paid for the shift they work.
“What’s really unique about it is the people get paid instantly,” Ables said. “So, you’re not having to wait two weeks for a paycheck. It’s kind of like Uber, you know, that gig economy. As soon as you work, the money can go into your account right away.”
Both the workers and the businesses can rate each other at the end of a shift, as well. Ables says that rating system keeps everything healthy.
“People are already used to working at multiple restaurants, multiple bars, when they’re flexible and when they’re available,” Ables said. “We’re just providing technology to make that a much easier transition.”
It’s a concept Ables feels will translate well to Auburn, especially during football season.
“In Auburn, we would do our normal sales throughout the week, but then on a game day weekend, you know, you have LSU or Georgia come in and our restaurants would do five times the amount of sales of a normal week just in a two-day stretch,” Ables said. “That’s a very unique scenario that really only places like Auburn experience.”
Ables started Croux alongside business partners Jennifer Ryan, Stewart Price, Lindsey Noto and Kenny Kung. He said the idea was born out of conversations with others in the service industry about staffing issues.
Once started, Croux got a boost from two tech start-up competitions in Alabama. They submitted a winning pitch to Techstars out of Mobile, then won $25,000 in a second startup competition through Launchpad Alabama.
More fortune came their way when the World Games came to Birmingham in July. The games went to Croux to find staffing help.
“We picked up over 40 shifts during the World games,” Ables said. “You know, a startup company being able to help staff the World Games in Birmingham, that really solidified us in the eyes of a lot of people and showed that this is working.”
Ables says they will help staff other big events in the Birmingham area, including March Madness next year. However, their primary interest remains in providing talent for restaurants.
“We want people to know our primary focus is on restaurants, but this app can be used by others as well, especially in the event space,” Ables said.
While an exact date hasn’t been set for the Auburn launch, Ables is already promoting the app on local community boards. He’ll start reaching out to local restaurants in the coming weeks as well.
“We want restaurants to know, hey, we’re coming and if you’re interested in working with us, we would love for you to go ahead and download the app and get started,” Ables said. “Anyone and everyone in Auburn who’s ready to use this, go ahead and download the app and we’ll get this started.”
The app can be found in both the Apple App store and on Google Play. For more info visit https://www.croux.co/ .