Weird Rules Texas Roadhouse Employees Are Forced To Follow

All restaurants have rules to follow, but Texas Roadhouse employee rules sometimes border on the extreme. Ultimately, all of the rules are there to create a sense of restaurant culture and to make more money for the restaurant. With a mission to provide "legendary food and legendary service," it's no wonder there are a few abnormal rules to follow.

The waitstaff at Texas Roadhouse look like they've stepped straight out of Texas with their t-shirts tucked into their blue jeans, and they're required to line dance once an hour in most locations. Plus, you're likely to see employees helping birthday celebrants onto a horseless saddle for a big birthday yeehaw. You're also going to hear plenty of buzzwords and be subject to some sneaky up-selling while you're there. While these rules are among the most obvious rules Texas Roadhouse Employees are forced to follow, there are plenty more. We've uncovered quite a few, giving insight into some of the strategies Texas Roadhouse uses to continue to make more sales per square foot than its steakhouse competitors (via Harvard Business School).

Line dancing may be required

If you have two left feet, working at Texas Roadhouse may not be the best choice for you. That's because line dancing will likely be a requirement of your job. Yeehaw! Fortunately, line dancing isn't a standard Texas Roadhouse employee rule in every location (via Indeed). Luckily, new hires will take line-dancing classes, so they don't have to come in knowing specific line dances (via Reddit).

If line dancing is a part of the requirement at your location, you can expect to have to dance at least once an hour (via Reddit). So, expect work to include a workout. If you try to avoid the line dance, you can expect to be written up for not making the effort. Besides, only two people are running food at a time, so you can't use that as an excuse (via Reddit). One Redditor said their best friend was even forced to come in to work to line dance on her day off because it "builds camaraderie" and because they needed a certain number of dancers. Being a newbie, she got drafted.

They won't serve you lunch during the weekend

Restaurant lunch menus tend to offer smaller, more reasonable portions for less money. So, eating off the lunch menu can be good for both your pocketbook and your waistline. However, Texas Roadhouse doesn't serve lunch during the week. In fact, you'll not find them open until late afternoon during the week (via Twitter). And, when they're open during lunch hours on the weekends, there's no lunch menu. There's a reason you have to order from the dinner menu even during lunch hours on the weekend. Texas Roadhouse says that "the dinner-only philosophy ensures our managers of a better lifestyle and reduces our real estate costs since we do not have to be located in high-traffic business districts."

With lower real estate prices, Texas Roadhouse doesn't really have to worry about being open all the time. Plus, Texas Roadhouse has over 5,000 guests each week, which is more than most restaurants. With everyone buying more expensive dinner menu items any time the doors are open, Texas Roadhouse is able to make more money.

They have a script, and they must follow it

One big Texas Roadhouse employee rule is that it requires its hosts to act with H.E.A.R.T., which stands for howdy, engage, arrive, respond, and thank you. That is, they must use a friendly and energetic initial greeting, engage guests in friendly conversation, tell the guests "the story" on the way to the table while acting with every courtesy, and thank them for visiting when they leave.

Thus, the script will go something like this: "Howdy, and welcome to Texas Roadhouse. My name is Bell, and I'm more than happy to help you. Can I get a name and number of people in your party?" Then, the host will ask, "Is this your first rodeo, or are you a Texas Roadhouse veteran?" (via Quizlet). It goes on from there. Making guests feel special and mentioning specific menu items using restaurant-mandated buzzwords is a must. When walking guests from the front to their table, friendly conversation, compliments, and menu recommendations are encouraged.

The script is all a part of Texas Roadhouse's mission to provide legendary food and legendary service. In fact, 100% of Texas Roadhouse employee respondents on Comparably said that this mission statement is a motivating factor for them, and 17% said that it's the main reason they continue to work for the company.

Using buzzwords is a must

If you think your Texas Roadhouse server is being a little heavy-handed with their food and drink suggestions, it could be because they're using so many buzzwords. Not only do servers have to hit certain talking points at your table, but they have very specific words that they have to use. This Texas Roadhouse employee rule is part psychology and part branding.

Pay attention and you'll realize that food and drinks at Texas Roadhouse come with specific adjectives. Your server will never ask if you're interested in a mere beer, margarita, ribs, steak, or bread. Doesn't an "ice cold beer" sound more refreshing? And aren't you curious about what makes a "legendary margarita" legendary? Fall-off-the-bone ribs are certainly more mouthwatering. Then there's the personal touch you get from hand-cut steaks, made-from-scratch sides, and fresh baked bread (via Reddit). Did it work? Likely, you're salivating just reading this paragraph.

Employees are pushed to up-sell

Within two minutes of being seated, Texas Roadhouse servers should start suggesting drinks and appetizers. They must recommend at least one alcoholic and one non-alcoholic beverage. They're also required to suggest at least two desserts. Being suggestive isn't abnormal in the restaurant business, as it makes customers aware of menu items. It also sparks cravings customers may not have had when they walked in the door. However, beyond suggesting, employees are pushed to up-sell.

A Redditor explained that the idea behind the Texas Roadhouse employee rule of up-selling is to use psychology and sales techniques to get customers to buy bigger items or items at premium prices. Common upgrades involve foods that are "loaded" with cheese, bacon, butter, or sour cream or "smothered" with mushrooms and onions. If a customer asks for fries or a baked potato, the server will ask, "With cheese or bacon?" or "Do you like it with butter and sour cream?" And, "You want marshmallows on your sweet potatoes, right?" When the customer orders steak or chicken, the server will slyly ask, "with mushrooms and onions?"

Unfortunately, some up-sells can be a little misleading since employees aren't automatically telling their customers that the extra ingredients don't come with the dish and cost extra. Of course, there are some upgrades that are more obviously going to be an up-charge, like deciding on a cup instead of a bowl of soup or adding an extra shot of alcohol to your cocktail (via Reddit).

Their shirts must be tucked in at all times

Texas Roadhouse has several rules about what you can and can't wear to work. It's a casual Texas steakhouse-style environment, so jeans are actually part of the uniform. You just have to be sure they don't have any rips and tears. And Texas Roadhouse will provide you with branded t-shirts during your training. However, if you're thinking of working at Texas Roadhouse, you'll want to know that it's necessary to keep your shirt tucked into your jeans at all times – unless management is feeling a little lax (via Indeed). Plus, you have to wear a belt.

Employees tucking in their shirts at Texas Roadhouse may be about more than just showing off Texas-style belt buckles. A 2015 Fruit of the Loom survey determined that men of all ages who tuck in their shirts make more money than non-shirt-tuckers. Shirt tuckers also tend to have more job happiness and optimism for the future (via Today). It also makes it easier to keep your shirt clean while waiting tables. So there is a good chance that having servers with a more polished look helps make more money for the restaurant and helps maintain happier employees. Thus this weird Texas Roadhouse employee rule is likely here to stay.

They're required to provide you with a humiliating birthday experience

If you hate being humiliated, don't let your friends and family convince you to go to Texas Roadhouse for your birthday. (Or at least make them swear to keep your birthday a secret.)

Otherwise, the server will drag out a portable saddle for you to mount, announce your birthday to the entire restaurant, and will ask everyone within hearing distance to give you a big "yeehaw" (via YouTube). At least they don't make you line dance with them, but if you're a low-key person, you're probably going to want to hide under the table. Then again, you may like the attention.

Some servers do ask elderly people if they're up for the saddle in case mounting it may prove too difficult physically. Nevertheless, they still get a big ol' Texas-style "yeehaw" (via Reddit).

Servers don't necessarily enjoy the birthday saddle process. It can sometimes be difficult to gather up enough servers for the festivities and find someone who wants to make the loud birthday announcement in an already-loud restaurant (via Reddit).

An off day with a secret shopper at the table can lead to demotion or worse

Texas Roadhouse regularly sends in secret shoppers to ensure that servers are doing everything they're supposed to do. According to u/JediBeagle1, the mystery shopper will look like a regular customer, so every table the waitstaff serves between 4:00 p.m. and an hour before closing is suspect. Everyone in the secret shopper's party has to order a full entrée and can't order food to go. The secret shopper gets reimbursed for the meal, but only up to $35, so a split ticket may be involved if they bring guests (via Reddit).

JediBeagle1 explained that the secret shopper is required to stay at the restaurant for a minimum of 60 minutes to have plenty of time to observe any missteps the server might make. They will have already reviewed information from the previous mystery shopper, so they likely have something specific that they're observing. And they're always watching to see who is and who isn't line dancing.

According to u/TriplV420, if a server doesn't "pass shops," they can be demoted to being a host or fired. "As long as you hit certain talking points, greet them at the 45-second mark, and make sure their food comes out okay you should be good" (via Reddit). So all those buzzwords and that line dancing aren't just for customers; they are also for secret shoppers.

Selling gift cards is a requirement

In addition to making sure to greet customers on time and up-sell food and drinks, there's an expectation for servers to sell gift cards (via Reddit). How many gift cards do you have sitting around that you've never used or that have just a few dollars left on them? We're guessing at least one or two since 51% of gift cards go unredeemed (via Save My Cent). The potential for people to buy gift cards and never use them is always a bonus for a restaurant. It's money in the bank for a restaurant without necessarily having to perform a service or sell food.

Total Touch says that 8 out of 10 people will purchase more than one gift card at a time, which can be a real money maker. Another interesting statistic is that 44% of consumers have visited a new restaurant or store because they've gotten a gift card. So it can be a way to get people in the door who have never had the Texas Roadhouse experience before.

Unfortunately, Redditor u/Tehgoldenfoxknew says that the Texas Roadhouse employee rule to sell gift cards can sometimes backfire. They've experienced customers who, offended by the hard sell, decided not to leave a tip (or buy a gift card).

There's an emphasis on employee competition

It turns out that Texas Roadhouse keeps track of all those up-sells and gift card sells. According to Redditor u/sdnlsnw, at night's end, a server can expect the management to announce everyone's percentages at the end of the night. What percent of customers upgraded to having their meat "smothered" with mushrooms and onions? How many loaded potato products did customers buy? How many customers thought extra shots might be a good idea? In fact, u/sdnlsnw says that nightly contests are common to see who can get the best percentages. Prizes can range from not having to do "side work" or getting a free meal.

According to Restaurant News, the point of employee competition is to increase how much the restaurant sells and increase morale among servers. Competition and the possibility of getting a reward encourage many servers to be on point, which is why many managers host nightly competitions. While some employees have found the contests to be fun because of the competition aspect, others seem to resent the idea of working harder for a free salad (via Glassdoor).

Meat cutters have to work in near-freezing temperatures

Some of the buzzwords you're bound to hear at Texas Roadhouse are that they have "hand-cut steaks" and "fresh baked bread." Rather than having bread baked and steaks cut off-site and shipped to the restaurant ready to serve, Texas Roadhouse employs bakers and meat cutters. The bakers bake fresh yeast rolls every day and bake fresh bread every five minutes to serve with homemade cinnamon butter. While the bakers are staying warm and toasty in the kitchen, though, the meat cutters work in coolers with a temperature of 34 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to the Kansas Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Inspection, processing meat (including cutting), should always take place in an environment that is not above 50 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent bacteria and mold from growing on the meat. With kitchen restaurants being a warm environment, this means that cutting work has to be done in a separate cool room. However, it's usually more convenient to do the cutting work in the cooler, which is what meat cutters at Texas Roadhouse are required to do.

Despite the sometimes-frigid work environment, about 65% of Texas Roadhouse meat cutters on Indeed rated the job four to five stars. One said it was his first job and he spent eight years doing it. Unfortunately, meat cutters never make as much as servers have the potential to make.

They have an unusual hair policy

There are plenty of restaurants that require their long-haired waitstaff to pull their hair back in a ponytail. After all, no customer wants someone else's hair in their food. However, Texas Roadhouse has a more unusual employee hair policy. One of the weird rules Texas Roadhouse employees have to follow is that their hair should never touch their shoulders. If their hair is longer than shoulder length, they are required to put it in a ponytail or under a hat. In addition to this rule, all employees are required to keep their hair a natural hair color. These rules go for both men and women (via Indeed).

Of course, in the kitchen, food safety policies dictate that staff must wear hats, hair coverings, hair and beard restraints, or clothing that covers any excess body hair. Otherwise, they're in danger of being written up during health inspections (via Citizen Times).

Potential General Managers have to make a significant monetary investment in the company

One thing you need to know about general managers at Texas Roadhouse is that they're literally invested in how well their restaurant runs. So they want to ensure that every customer who walks through the door leaves happy. When a member of the Texas Roadhouse staff gets promoted to General Manager, they are required to make a $25,000 investment in the company. If you're wondering how that would be possible for someone working on waitress wages, it's because the company will actually loan the money to the manager to be paid back in installments. And if the General Manager sticks around for five years, they can get the whole loan forgiven. Thus, the Texas Roadhouse employee rule to invest in the company as a manager is not as extreme as it initially sounds (via Harvard Business School).

Harvard Business School says that a Texas Roadhouse manager tends to make around $100,000 a year. Since competing restaurants only offer their General Managers around $65,000-$80,000 per year, there's definitely an incentive to stay on for five years (for loan forgiveness) or even longer. Plus, Texas Roadhouse says that the Managing Partner gets 10% of the profits, which drives them to have the staff follow all the scripts, use all the buzzwords, and up-sell. All of these weird rules that Texas Roadhouse employees follow are ultimately about putting more money in the pocket of the management and the company.