Texas Roadhouse, the Louisville, Ky.–based restaurant chain, made headlines last week when it held a five-day incentive trip in San Francisco, combining meetings, fun, and community service. In an interview with CNBC's Janet Shamlian, CEO G. J. Hart said that holding an incentive trip is “important in times like these.

“We’re all about our people and our culture, and our people are the most important asset we’ve got,” he said. “This investment in our people will yield us great results.” Attendees included 1,000 restaurant owners, as well as frontline workers, who filled two of the city’s most luxurious hotels, the Fairmont and The Ritz-Carlton. “These are the people who are running our business day in and day out,” said Hart. “We want to recognize our frontline folks.”

The event was estimated to have cost the company $2.5 million. When asked about the measuring the return on this spend, Hart said, “We are in the service and hospitality business. We’ve got a philosophy that if we take care of our people, they’ll take care of our guests.”

A fast-growing public company, Texas Roadhouse has more than 300 restaurants in 44 states. It will open three new restaurants in May alone, in Little Rock, Ark.; Springfield, Ill.; and Fairfield, Calif.

Hart is not new to promoting the value of incentives: Texas Roadhouse was used as a case study in Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton’s well-known book about motivation, The Carrot Principle.—Barbara Scofidio