Founder Mike Rypka takes over as interim chief executive
Torchy’s Tacos CEO GJ Hart retires today, November 5, 2021, announced the Baja-style taco chain. Mike Rypka, who founded Torchy’s, has assumed the role of interim chief executive. Hart will continue his relationship with the company as a consultant.
“GJ has provided tremendous value to Torchy’s during his four years as CEO,” said Rypka. “He has contributed significantly to the growth and success of the brand, and his leadership has enabled us to attract some of the finest talent in the restaurant industry. We are incredibly proud of the Torchy’s team and excited about the many opportunities ahead of us. We thank GJ for all he has helped us achieve, and we wish him the very best as he embarks on his retirement.”
Hart helped the Austin, Texas-based chain grow from 42 restaurants to its current count of 96 units across 10 states. In the last two years alone, during the pandemic and recovery, 26 new stores were opened.
“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,” said Hart. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time leading the organization to this point, and I am grateful to our employees and investors for their support and partnership as we have grown the business. I believe that Torchy’s will continue to have incredible success far into the future and I look forward to providing support throughout that journey.”
He said his retirement stemmed from a shift in priorities, and that he looked forward to spending more time with his wife, children and growing group of grandchildren.
Added Hart, “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. 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.”
Torchy’s Tacos operates 96 restaurants in the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
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