These Are The Best Restaurants To Work For

These chains might have very different menus, but they all know how to keep employees happy.

When the restaurant industry failed to attract employees at the same pre-COVID levels, some brands turned to technology as a partial solution. However, other brands recognized the moment as one that emphasized the need for a dedicated workforce and developed ways to grow their teams.

Of the many dining chains with locations spread across the country, QSR Magazine deemed 25 restaurants the Best Brands to Work For in 2023. To separate the just-okay workplaces from the best employers around, QSR gathered nominations from restaurant brands and used a panel of industry experts to determine the top chains to work for.

Among the 25 restaurant chains listed by QSR, here are three brands that stand out to us as uniquely supporting their employees. By encouraging professional development and fostering a diverse work environment, these companies ensure continual interest from job seekers.

Raising Cane’s

In addition to standard benefits like medical, dental, vision, and a 401(k) employer match, Raising Cane's offers educational benefits such as tuition reimbursement without any program restrictions or waiting period. The brand also offers fully funded high school programs and free online learning for family members.

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As part of the Restaurant Partner Program to help employees advance their careers within the Raising Cane's system, the brand promoted more than 500 of its staff to a restaurant manager position as of August 2023 and more than 170 to salaried manager roles. Over the past five years the brand has invested over $150 million in base and bonus increases, which translates to around $4 more per hour for the average employee. (Not anywhere near the CEO's earnings, but headed in the right direction.)

Portillo’s

Portillo's is a staple of the Midwest, but has been on the path to nationwide expansion for some time now. A key to that growth is having its restaurants fully staffed, and the brand's apparent willingness to be flexible with its workers might be what draws so many in and keeps them around.

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The restaurant chain had an 80% internal promotion rate in 2023, and employees are offered flexible scheduling and up to $11 in free meals during each shift. Portillo's also began implementing a time-off program with paid leave and floating holidays, which further emphasize the focus on flexibility.

For workers facing hardship, the brand offers financial support through its Heart of Portillo's Fund and provides employees with paid parental leave, health insurance, vision, dental, flexible spending accounts, and other benefits like pet insurance.

Noodles & Company

As with many of the other best brands to work for, professional advancement and support programs are what earn Noodles & Company its high placement on QSR's list. The restaurant chain offers unique initiatives such as immigration reimbursement support, mental health resources, and adoption assistance.

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Noodles & Company also provides clear paths for advancement within the company at multiple levels, from cashier to management level and eventually to regional leadership. Workers are also encouraged to explore the corporate side of the business through departments like human resources and marketing. The brand has an apparent commitment to diversifying its workforce, with 50% of its executive level positions held by women and 25% of its employees identifying as LGBTQIA+.

These brands, as well as the others listed in QSR's report, have found success by investing in employees. Whether by aiding workers through financial hardship or encouraging them to continue their education, a company that treats workers as more than just cogs in the machine will reap the benefits. 

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