Workers Reveal What It's Really Like To Work At Torchy's Tacos

Popular chain restaurant Torchy's Tacos originated in Austin, Texas, as a single food truck. Now, the chain has over 100 restaurants in Texas and a dozen other states. CEO Mike Rypka credits this growth to a commitment to the company's core quality and customer service values in an article for Nation's Restaurant News,

The chain expanded into Florida in early 2023, with more openings planned for later in the year. Torchy's Tacos owes its cult-like following to its wide selection of tacos, which includes monthly flavors and options diners can't find anywhere else. Unlike most other Mexican fast food chains, many locations also feature bars serving a selection of margaritas, cocktails, and locally sourced beer and wine. 

Of course, the fast food company couldn't succeed without its dedicated staff members. Over the years, employees have taken to social media and company review sites to express their love (and frustration) for all things Torchy's Tacos. Being an employee for this company often means long hours, intense peak rushes, and juggling multiple tasks.

However, although working in the food service industry is challenging, the privately owned chain does offer its employees some perks that set it apart from other fast-casual restaurants. Some employees feel that these benefits make Torchy's Tacos a great workplace, while others think the chain could do more to improve its working environment. 

The benefits are a plus

Although salary is usually the primary concern for employees, the benefits packages are also an essential compensation component. According to the company website, Torchy's Tacos potentially have access to benefits such as paid time off, a 401K plan, and health insurance. 

One Indeed reviewer shared that these benefits are of better quality than offerings from other companies in the industry, including the ability to transfer to a different restaurant when needed easily. However, a job posting on SimplyHired notes that these benefits are only available to full-time employees after one year of service, so part-time employees and new hires aren't eligible.

In response to a review of benefits on GlassDoor, the chain explains that certain free benefits are available to all employees, such as its Employee Assistance Program and a discount on AAA memberships. Furthermore, taco lovers can enjoy their favorite meal for less with the chain's employee discount. One Indeed review explains that workers receive a discount card that is accepted at all chain locations, making it convenient for employees to use their discount even when they aren't working. 

Other Indeed users report that the discount is up to 50 percent off, which is quite generous by most standards. The chain also partners with DailyPay, a service that gives all employees access to their wages on demand (via FastCasual). This partnership means that Torchy's Tacos workers don't have to wait for their biweekly paychecks to use their earnings. 

The starting pay could be better

Although the company offers some valuable benefits, Torchy's Tacos falls short in terms of pay rates. Only 33 percent of InHerSight users feel their starting wage was fair, and employee reviews across the internet reflect this low percentage. A review on GlassDoor notes that workers with families will likely have to work full-time to earn enough money to support themselves. 

Another GlassDoor reviewer explains that tip-sharing can help offset low wages, but making tips isn't guaranteed. As with most restaurants, tip-sharing benefits employees who work on busy days, such as the weekends, more than those who work standard shifts.

Even experienced restaurant workers will likely be disappointed by their pay at Torchy's Tacos. For example, one GlassDoor reviewer explains that, even after multiple years in the food service industry, they were paid the same rate as new employees. This salary standardization can be frustrating for those who have made a career out of working in restaurants. However, low wages aren't unique to this company. 

Many fast food chains only pay the minimum wage to new employees, but some Torchy's Tacos positions pay more. For instance, Zippia notes that the average hourly wage for employees at this chain is about $13, which is higher than the 2023 federal minimum wage. This is certainly not enough for most people to live on, but it may be suitable for someone in need of extra money. 

Schedules are flexible

Schedule flexibility is uncommon in the fast food industry, especially during busy hours such as evenings and weekends. However, many Torchy's Tacos locations offer employees work-life balance with shifts that fit into their lives. As a result, many former and current employees list flexible schedules as one of the highlights of working for this chain. 

For example, one Indeed reviewer explains that scheduling makes the chain a great place to work. This reviewer also recommends high school and college students explore employment with the restaurant because of this benefit. Another Indeed user notes that the chain doesn't require employees to work weekends, which is exceptionally rare for restaurants.

Multiple employees also praise the chain's flexible schedules on GlassDoor, with many listing it as the first item on their "pros" list. However, the privilege of a flexible schedule does come with the responsibility of communicating scheduling needs to management. As another Indeed reviewer describes, managers are only willing to work with employees on their schedules if they are aware of potential desires or limitations. 

Otherwise, they will likely schedule team member shifts to fit the restaurant's needs, such as during peak hours or when other employees are unavailable. It's also worth noting that employees who can't work during the busiest periods of the week will likely receive fewer shifts than those who can, which is a standard scheduling practice in many service industries. 

The environment is fast-paced

Diners who frequent fast food restaurants generally expect speedy service, significantly impacting Torchy's Tacos' work environment. In the restaurant's FAQ section on Indeed, a user asked employees to describe a typical day working for the chain. Although answers vary, two words appear in many of the responses: Busy and fast-paced. This environment can be great for high-energy employees but challenging for workers who prefer a relaxed atmosphere. 

One employee review on Niche explains that workers are constantly on the move during rushes, and it can take a lot of work to keep up with the pace of business at first. However, the reviewer also notes that the sometimes break-neck speed makes shifts fly by.

In another Indeed FAQ post about work pace, some workers describe the flow of customers as seemingly constant and complain that the workload can be too much to handle. Since employees build tacos by hand, it's no surprise that fulfilling orders during busy periods can feel overwhelming. 

Nevertheless, many employee reviews indicate that the restaurant's dynamic environment actually makes the job satisfying for some. For example, one user responded to the FAQ post that working at Torchy's Tacos is similar to a tennis match. One food runner on Indeed also described their experience as enjoyable because of the speedy work their position required.

The treatment of employee varies widely

How restaurant chains treat their workers is important to many diners, and many restaurants often focus on offering employees an inclusive, positive workplace culture. In the case of Torchy's Tacos, some locations make their employees feel valued and respected, while others have managers that contribute to a toxic working environment. Although companies offer standardized training, it's hard to account for personality differences. 

Depending on management styles, employees can have a completely different experience working at one restaurant than at another. For example, reviews on InHerSight vary widely, with some employees calling the chain a great place to work while others claim mistreatment at the hands of managers.

Reviews about employee treatment are bleak on, where some workers report troubling instances of managers bullying their employees or favoring some staff members over others. One GlassDoor reviewer reports dealing with a manager who would tease workers for performance issues without even properly training them. 

However, another GlassDoor reviewer loves their management team. Dozens of other reviews call their management teams supportive and kind. Unfortunately, the kind of treatment employees receive at Torchy's Tacos seems to be the luck of the draw, which likely represents an opportunity for the chain to improve manager training.

It's great for students

Many people have their first-ever job in the retail or food service industries, but some companies offer a better first job environment than others. Employee reviews

across the board frequently suggest that Torchy's Tacos is a great job for a student.

Flexible schedules make it easy to balance work and school, and the pay is likely sufficient for young people just starting their working lives. One GlassDoor review also notes that discounted food and job simplicity are great perks for students wanting to work for this chain.

However, the benefits of being a student employee at this chain extend beyond simply working in one of the restaurants. The chain sometimes offers internships for those interested in careers in the hospitality industry. These internships are often paid, and many come with similar perks to what standard employees receive. For example, in a 2021 Lensa post for a summer internship, the chain offered food discounts, hourly pay, and even travel allowances to their interns. 

In 2019, the chain advertised its "Damn Good Internship Program" on Poached with a special focus on restaurant management. Although internships are available on a limited basis, these programs suggest that this chain is willing to invest resources in teaching students the ins and outs of hospitality.

Employees have to multitask quite a lot

It's no secret that many restaurants have suffered from ongoing staffing issues since the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, and Torchy's Tacos isn't exempt from that trend. As a result, employees typically have to take on multiple roles during their shifts. 

For instance, in a Reddit thread, one employee describes themselves as essentially an all-purpose worker jumping between tasks as needed. According to the original poster, they regularly took on assignments such as bussing tables, prepping ingredients, and assisting the restaurant's cashiers. Other employees report a similar experience across multiple company review sites.

For example, one Indeed reviewer described a typical shift at Torchy's Tacos as chaotic because of staffing issues. This worker described jumping between expediting, cashiering, and running food, all in a single day. While this is common in the food service industry, multitasking can make an average workday considerably more tiring. However, some employees aren't bothered by wearing multiple hats during their shifts. 

One line cook took to Indeed with a more positive outlook on their experiences with multitasking. This reviewer lists all the kitchen stations they had to learn to operate but also describes Torchy's Tacos as a great place to work. In the end, working in understaffed conditions is hard on everyone, but whether or not it ruins a job is a matter of personal taste. Those who love variety may thrive in these conditions, but others may find them too stressful.