LongHorn Steakhouse team member Billy Benford intends to have himself a merry little Christmas, and he wants to make sure he spreads that good cheer around. He is visiting nursing homes and serenading their residents with holiday carols this month just as he has done every December for the last 15 years.
The prep cook in Spring Hill, TN, is often joined by his wife, other team members and their families, and sometimes even Managing Partner Dago Melendez. “The thing I love most about singing at nursing homes is how excited and appreciative the residents are,” Billy said. “It’s amazing to mix our LongHorn family with our own families while making someone’s day special and bringing a smile to their face.”
Billy, who has worked for LongHorn for 19 years, is deeply involved in his community. He and his wife take blankets and food they have prepared to homeless shelters during the holiday season. “One of the main reasons I continue to call LongHorn Steakhouse home is our commitment to our communities,” he said. The restaurant delivers food to firefighters and police on holidays such as Labor Day and Veterans Day.
He has worked at three LongHorn locations — Dago hired him in downtown Nashville, and when Dago opened new restaurants in nearby Brentwood and Spring Hill, Billy joined their teams.
“Don’t get me wrong — I am dedicated and loyal to LongHorn — but the reason I moved was to continue to work with Dago,” Billy said. “He creates a culture of family, treats every guest like a loyal guest and treats every team member, no matter their position, like a rock star. How could you not want to work in an environment like that?”
“I am honored to have worked side by side with Billy for nearly 20 of my 25 years with LongHorn Steakhouse,” Dago said. “Billy has been the foundation of our restaurant. He was on my opening team for two new restaurants, and both of them exceeded expected metrics. In addition, he and his wife are always willing to help anyone who needs it at the restaurant and in the community.”
Billy, who is always upbeat, has an extra reason to be cheerful this winter — he recently won a LongHorn Team Member of the Year award. Like the winners in Darden’s other brands, Billy received a $1,000 prize, a trip to the brand’s annual managing partner conference and a crystal trophy.
“It was exciting, fun and surprising,” he said. He was called with the news as he drove home from a family reunion and had to pull off the road. “The award showed me that people know how well I do my job, and they know how much I love my job and LongHorn. I felt appreciated.”
All Billy wants for Christmas is what he already has.