Rules Fogo De Chao Employees Have To Follow

The mere thought of succulent meat.being skewered, generously sprinkled in seasonings, and grilled over flames to perfection is enough to make anyone's stomach grumble. Perhaps this is why Brazilian-style steakhouses — which prepare meat according to the traditional style of roasting on pegs, in a method called churrasco — have become so popular in recent years,. The most well-known among them, at least in the U.S., is surely Fogo de Chão

The upscale and fast-growing chain offers its customers an unforgettable, unique dining experience. Meanwhile its servers, gaucho chefs, bartenders, and kitchen staff are all an important part of making that experience one that will bring customers back time and time again. But beyond the savory smells wafting through the steakhouse and the steady clamor of happily eating guests, what are things really like for those busy employees? 

As with practically any job, there are some definite positives accompanying employment with this worldwide meat chain ... as well as some less exciting ones. From requirements regarding tips to holiday guidelines, to the cost of taking a dog to the veterinarian, here are some of the interesting rules that Fogo de Chão employees have to follow.

Their tips are pooled

One of the best things about being a server is earning tips. In fact, it's often one of the perks that draws people to the food industry in the first place. The idea of earning extra money based in large part on how hard you work during a shift is insanely attractive. Certainly, it touches everyone's inner desire to work hard and be recognized for a job well done. But at Fogo de Chão, the swelling excitement that comes with seeing a high-percentage gratuity attached to a customer's bill is moot. That is because the server who earned the tip isn't allowed to keep it.

Well, not all of it, that is. According to employees on Glassdoor, all tips received are thrown into one big tipping pool — and at the end of every working day, the money is split equally among the bartenders, servers, and gaucho chefs, as per an alleged employee writing on Reddit

For some workers, this could be beneficial. Chefs would otherwise receive little to no tips throughout their shift. But servers, who have by far the most customer interaction and are therefore directly tipped the most in other established, will likely find their total cut of gratuity to be majorly slashed. That could sting, especially for those extra-hard workers who hit more tables in a single evening than do their coworkers. It's a slippery topic, and one that seems to be highly controversial for Fogo de Chão workers. 

They don't need to pack a lunch

While employee discounts are fairly common, most restaurants will not dish out free food to workers. The Costco food court, for example, not only doesn't grant its employees meals — it makes them stand in line with the rest of the crowd just to order food at full-price. Ouch. Luckily, Fogo de Chão has stepped up to the plate when it comes to feeding its employees. For many workers, the chain gets this one right.

Workers at Fogo are reportedly welcome to a free meal every shift. "Great quality free meals!" praised a current employee on Glassdoor. "Can't complain about that!" And it doesn't appear to be just scraps, either. Employees divulge that, at most locations, there are virtually zero restrictions on what is up for grabs. "You get fed anything off the menu for your shifts," confirmed a user on Reddit

While another server did mention that there were restrictions regarding very high-quality meats at their location, they noted that every other cut, as well as anything piled on a plate from the restaurant's ample salad bar, was free for the taking. We know we'd happily leave our brown-bagged peanut butter and jelly on the counter at home for whichever of the hot, fire-cooked portions were available for us on the counter at work.

They sometimes have to place napkins in customer's laps

"You have to put napkins in people's laps," reads a comment on Reddit by a user who was attempting to prepare someone for their first day serving at Fogo de Chão. Though it was clearly intended to poke fun, the statement reveals a bizarre truth: a rumor says the chain requires servers to physically place napkins in the laps of customers. In some locations, this slightly odd act rings true. "As for the napkin thing," a former employee at a Texas Fogo location explained on Reddit, "I did it and so did most of the waitstaff." A customer confirmed that their server in Aruba had placed a napkin for them, as well.

Other customers said that they had never experienced such a thing. "As someone who visits a Fogo once in a while," read another comment, "I have never had anyone put a napkin on my lap. I would find that really awkward." Many in the thread concurred. If you're one who would consider this scenario uncomfortable, never fear — this practice doesn't seem to be a hard and fast rule, and you can always make it clear you'd like to handle your napkin yourself if the occasion arises.

They often have to work on Christmas

Christmas is a time of rest ... well, for most people. There are, of course, those who still have to clock in on one of the most heavily-celebrated holidays in the world. Those in professions like health care or emergency services have to stick to their shifts, but sometimes this also includes people in the food service sector. Though there are restaurants that close out of respect for the holiday and on behalf of their workers, Fogo de Chão is not one of them.

Instead, the Brazilian churrasco house focuses on customers — namely, those who prefer to dine out with family on holidays as opposed to cooking — and remains open on Christmas day. Some, naturally enough, take issue with this, seeing it as a lack of care for its employees. "They are open on Christmas," said a Reddit user. "I saw their valet out in the cold that day [...] That automatically makes me think they don't care about their employees."

To make things more controversial, one employee divulged that working major holidays is part of the employment package at Fogo de Chão. There is, apparently, no opting out. "Forced to work holidays," said the poster on Glassdoor when asked to list their number one issue with the chain. "They literally block major holidays on the request form." We hope old Saint Nick swings by his local Fogo this year and leaves the staff a very generous tip.

They have to roast the same slabs of meat multiple times

Every restaurant has processes in place for preparing its star dishes. In the case of Fogo de Chão, with its epic smoky slices of steak, chicken, lamb, and pork, you can't help but wonder how things play out back in the kitchen. How long does it take chefs to cook such massive amounts of meat for the dinner crowd, which is served on an all-you-can-eat basis? They'd be cooking all day, right?

Despite what you may think, preparation ahead of opening is actually minimal and requires hardly any meat to be roasting before the doors are unlocked for customers. According to employees, there is a very specific technique utilized by Fogo which allows for this. "The only stuff that's actually cooked for a substantial amount of time is sausage and the like," explained an employee on Reddit. "All the other meats are cooked for a couple of minutes on each side, just so the outside layer is cooked." 

The user went on to explain that a few slices of the freshly-fired layer are then cut off the huge hunks of meat and served before the underdone core is brought back to the heat. The whole process is repeated — sometimes, as often as four or five different occasions until it is all eaten. The items which require the most prep are apparently those placed out at the salad bar

They have to work their way up regardless of experience

One of the beautiful things about building a strong resume is being able to start higher up the ladder with every new job you take. Having credentials and experience should mean bypassing many of the entry level positions you once started in, and not needing to start from scratch every time. However, this mindset may not be shared by the higher-ups at Fogo de Chão. 

According to the admission of multiple employees, hiring managers at the Brazilian steakhouse seem to prefer to start all workers at the entry level — regardless of experience. "I interviewed with them a few months ago," said one prospective employee on Reddit under r/Bartenders. "They told me they wanted to start me as a server and 'eventually' work me up into bartending. I have 16 years in the industry, 11 of which have been bartending. Laughed in the guys face and walked out." 

Another user corroborated this by saying that, while they had previously been a server and wanted to start as one at Fogo, the chain placed them in its kitchens as a busser, ensuring that they would be trained across the board. But that had been months ago, the user insisted, and there still seemed to be no serving job in sight.

Their schedule is not always set

The food industry tends to be a great option for working students for multiple reasons — restaurants tend to be closed in the mornings, when many classes are held, and ramp up in the evenings when students are more free. The hours tend to be manageable as far as the amount given, as well as flexible — and flexibility is good, even necessary, as a student. But too much flexibility can cause problems, as well. You need to be able to plan when you're going to fit in your cram study sesh in the library, of course.

Therefore, Fogo de Chão may not be the best choice for students searching for employment. Workers consistently report over-flexibility when it comes to scheduling. In fact, there doesn't appear to be much of a set schedule at all. "Once you start, they only let you pick up shifts. They don't schedule you," said a user on Reddit, referencing an alleged conversation they had with a server. 

Another user corroborated this on a separate thread, saying: "I love my coworkers but [...] with the hours and impossibility to get a regular schedule set, it's no wonder we've lost so many servers over the summer," while yet another on Glassdoor claimed the lack of consistency had harmed their studies. 

They have to adapt to a new team of coworkers often

According to the U.S. Bureau Of Labor Statistics, the average American spends around 34.4 hours per week at work. Given that such a large chunk of your life will be spent at work, who your coworkers are can be hugely important. Having a team you trust can be priceless, while having one you don't can be demoralizing. But dealing with a group of people you barely know? Well, that might be the worst of all.

Reportedly, this is the reality for quite a few Fogo de Chão employees. According to staff members writing on a variety of platforms, having inconsistent workmates is par for the course. "This place is a revolving door," admits a current employee on Glassdoor. "New trainees Every. Single. Week." 

This constant adjusting appears to be uncomfortable for more consistent members of staff, requiring the continuous getting used to of new faces and learning of new names — as well as struggling to find a pair of experienced hands to be relied upon for help on busy evenings. As soon as things finally get comfortable, out go another few employees while more newbies are thrown into the mix. Sounds understandably challenging to us. 

They have access to pet insurance

Healthcare, dental, 401(k) ... these are all things many of us might expect when landing a full-time job. But an insurance package for our furriest of friends? Now, that's a surprise. According to the benefits sections on both Indeed and Glassdoor, Fogo de Chão offers its employees — wait for it — full-on pet insurance as part of its employment benefits package.

Just like a regular old human health insurance program, pet insurance typically functions as a plan the consumer pays into every month in exchange for coverage of certain veterinary costs, procedures, or medications for their animals. Generally, there are three different types of pet insurance plans: an accident plan (meaning Fido swallowed a poisonous mushroom and the vet needs to get it out, like, yesterday), an accident and ailment plan (which will cover a swallowed item and an unseen bout of cancer), and finally, the preventative plan (which usually takes care of routine shots and panels). 

Which type Fogo offers its employees, we can't say. However, seeing as many of us have experienced a breathtakingly expensive veterinary bill at least once or twice in our lives, we can imagine that this is a welcome perk for Fogo de Chão employees.

They reportedly aren't allotted any paid time off

Paid time off is valuable for employees across all industries. Knowing you can take a few days away from work if something happens — and not having to stress about whether or not the bills will get paid if you do — can be a huge weight that's lifted off your shoulders. Equally, the knowledge that you don't have such a safety net can be stressful. Without one, you may feel that you have to go in, even if you really shouldn't.

According to Clockify, 89% of Americans believe that PTO is an important part of employment, and 72% of working people in the U.S. had access to it in 2022. But despite these numbers, Fogo de Chão remains without one. As claimed by employees on Indeed, all vacation time for part-timers and full-timers is unpaid. If a server is faced with a family emergency, or if they just simply want to plan a fun family trip, it may well mean taking a pay cut to do so.

They supposedly don't have to provide a work permit or pass a background check

A work permit, which allows a person to seek legal employment and wages in a foreign country, is an extremely important form of documentation in the United States. It is technically illegal to work without one, so many businesses in the U.S. require a valid permit to hire a non-citizen.

However, businesses do not necessarily have to do this. One of the companies that reportedly turns a blind eye to this practice is none other than Fogo de Chão. According to multiple employee on Indeed, the chain does not ask prospective staff members to present an active work permit. If this were not surprising enough, the restaurant reportedly does not perform background checks on potential workers, either. "Felons can work here," wrote a former employee on Indeed. Whether or not this comment was in jest, we aren't sure.

Speaking Portuguese is necessary for moving up the promotional ladder

It's no secret that being bilingual will make you more marketable. While Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese are the most-spoken second languages in the United States, none of these will impress your higher-ups at Fogo de Chão. The only language of interest here is Portuguese — the national language of Brazil. 

According to employees, understanding Brazilian culture and speaking Brazilian Portuguese is not only highly preferred, but might be your only shot at promotion. "If you speak Portuguese then there is a good chance you'll be promoted in a week, if you're just an English speaking person you're less likely to get noticed," wrote one worker on Indeed. We don't necessarily doubt it, seeing as Fogo de Chão's website has a language tool for customers (and perhaps employees, as well) to learn Portuguese culinary phrases. 

Though some might view this language preference as a bit overboard, we understand it to a certain extent. Maintaining culture and heritage through food is something many chefs are passionate about. We wouldn't mind being transported to Brazil with every bite we take at Fogo de Chão. If hearing Portuguese enhances the experience, we are at least theoretically here for it.