facebook pixal

Torchy’s Tacos CEO GJ Hart is retiring

Hart, whose leave is effective immediately, will stay on as a consultant to the fast-casual taco chain. Founder Mike Rypka becomes interim CEO.
Torchy's Tacos
Photo: Shutterstock

GJ Hart, CEO of Torchy’s Tacos since 2018, who more than doubled the brand’s footprint during his tenure, is retiring, effective immediately, the chain announced Friday.

Hart will serve as a consultant to the fast casual while founder Mike Rypka will serve as interim CEO.

Hart, who joined Torchy’s in January of 2018, said he is leaving to spend more time with his family, including his wife, four children and “growing brood” of grandchildren.

“The global pandemic catalyzed a shift in priorities for many of us, and spending time with family now comes first in this next phase of my life and career,” he said in a statement. “I plan to continue contributing to the hospitality industry, to which I’ve dedicated my career, by serving on boards and acting as a resource for leaders and entrepreneurs.”

Rypka founded Torchy’s 15 years ago in Austin. The fast casual, which is known for its innovative, “damn good” tacos and queso, now has 96 locations in 10 states. It has opened 26 restaurants since last year.

Before joining Torchy’s, Hart helmed California Pizza Kitchen, where he guided improvements to the casual dining chain’s look, menu and service model. Prior to that, he steered Texas Roadhouse through its initial public offering in 2004.

Torchy’s was rumored to be among the flood of restaurants considering going public.

In 2017, the chain sold a minority interest to investment firm General Atlantic. Last year, the firm bought an additional stake in the brand, along with several new investors. The chain has reported average unit volumes of $3.8 million.

“Torchy’s is by far one of the hottest brands in the industry today and I am so proud of the passionate team we have built,” Hart said in a statement.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Why Chili's is changing its chicken tenders and margaritas

The brand is reformulating some of its most popular menu categories as it looks to boost sales and get back on consumers' radars.


Fuku's new chicken sandwich pays tribute to Pride Month

Every June, David Chang’s fast casual offers a sandwich LTO to support the LGBTQIA+ community. The Sashay Filet Biscuit is the latest.


These are the fast-food chains doing best at beating inflation

The Bottom Line: Among the biggest limited-service chains, Raising Cane’s and Chick-fil-A have performed best over the past decade at growing unit volumes when adjusted for inflation.


More from our partners