6 Best Restaurant Chains to Work For

Chain restaurants often offer food service workers advantages in pay and benefits than smaller independent restaurants can provide. Along with perks like uniform allowances, higher hourly wages, and the opportunity to buy group health insurance, most chain restaurants have a structured path for advancement, sometimes even to the corporate level. If you're a food service professional looking for a good chain restaurant to advance your career, here are 6 of the best to work with.


Chipotle salad and drink

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This chain's motto is "Food with Integrity," and based on employee reviews, it seems the company also operates with integrity regarding its workers. Line workers average nearly $9 per hour, much higher than other fast food restaurants. Another impressive statistic is that 96 percent of the managers are promoted from within. Stellar employees can be promoted within a matter of months, making general manager in just one year of proven performance.

Compensation at the manager level is better than average, ranging from $45,000 to $60,000 per year with generous bonuses that can push salaries into the six figure range. The company offers excellent benefits to all its employees, including access to health insurance coverage, 401k plan, free uniforms, bonus program, and a free taco every day for lunch. Some general managers even move on to become restaurateurs, which comes with stock options and a free company car.  

TGI Friday

TGI Friday's restaurant

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This restaurant chain has the highest hourly pay for servers according to salary figures compiled by Glassdoor. With an average rate of $9.39 per hour before tips, wait staff receive larger paychecks that compensate for an evening with lower tips.

Most employees report a very positive work culture at the restaurant, with excellent managers who work with staff to resolve problems and schedules that allow a healthy work-life balance. The benefits for hourly workers are impressive and include perks such as tuition reimbursement, access health insurance, dining discounts, wellness center discounts, auto and home insurance at discount rates, and even an optional pet insurance program. It's one of the few chains that offer sick pay for hourly staff, as well.

The company hires many managers from within and the pay and benefits for management and corporate-level employees are very competitive, including health, dental, and vision insurance, long-term care insurance, health savings account, retirement account, and generous paid leave. 

In-N-Out Burger

In-N-Out Burger Restaurant

Image via Flickr by Wall Slide

Fast food restaurants don't often get high marks for treating employees well, but In-N-Out Burger is a happy exception. For starters, it offers the highest hourly pay of any chain restaurant for new employees: $10.50 per hour. It also offers even part-time employees access to group health, vision, and dental insurance plans.

In-N-Out Burger promotes heavily from within; it retains much of the family culture of the original owners, Harry and Esther Snyder, who opened the first restaurant in 1948. While the median salary for fast food restaurant managers is $48,000 per year, the average at In-N-Out is nearly $120,000.

Most current and past employees give the chain high marks for a positive work environment and caring management. Getting a job there is highly competitive; many managers require a referral from a current employee before they'll even grant an interview.

Texas Roadhouse

Texas Roadhouse Sign

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It's no surprise that tips are good at a steak house known for supersized servings. But it isn't just the tips that workers here enjoy. Texas Roadhouse offers flexible shifts for its hourly workers, making it easier to strike a positive work-life balance. The corporate culture is described as being supportive, cooperative, encouraging, and fun--employees are known to break out in dance while serving up steaks. In fact, the company made the list of top 50 best places to work in 2013 according to Glassdoor.

With a motto of "Legendary People, Legendary Food," the company focuses on hiring, training, and retaining the best "Roadies," as employees are called. To that end, they pay higher than average wages, offer generous benefits, and frequently promote from within. 

They also foster entrepreneurship with their managing partners. With two years experience and an investment of $25,000, managing partners get a guaranteed base salary of $45,000 plus 10 percent of the store's profits, a very tidy sum for most.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Five Guys restaurant

Image via Flickr by Neeta Lind

This restaurant is experiencing explosive growth, due in part to its almost cult-like following. In fact, it's the fastest growing restaurant chain in the country right now. Five Guys is known for treating its employees exceptionally well, perhaps because they've had to hire so many so fast over the past decade.

With a higher than average hourly rate for line workers (about $8.50 per hour) and a strong ethic for recruiting managers from within, Five Guys Burgers and Fries was given a 3.9 out of 5.0 rating on Glassdoor, high for fast food chains. ROC-United praised the company for taking the "high road to profitability."

Benefits are also generous, including paid sick time for all hourly workers, unusual in many chain restaurants. Managers are well compensated, averaging over $50,000 per year. 

Carrabba's Italian Grill

Carrabba's restaurant

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For wait staff, Carrabba's is a dream according to employee reviews. While the hourly pay averages $5.70, tips are generous and the management offers excellent flexible schedules to accommodate their employees' needs.

The company's motto, "No love sincerer than love of food," is in evidence in the high quality of made-from-scratch menu items; kitchen staff reports a high level of satisfaction with the work environment and corporate culture. The restaurant also is highly committed to its local community, donating food to schools, community centers, and local charities.

The company offers generous benefits including medical, dental, and prescription drug insurance, vacation plans, and meal discounts. 

For many people, careers in the restaurant business are a rewarding opportunity to work flexible hours, earn good wages, and advance into a high-paying job. If a restaurant career is in your future, these six restaurant chains are a great place to start your search. 

Contributed to jobs.net by Kim Evans

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