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Mike Rypka founded Torchy's Tacos in Austin, Texas in 2006.

Torchy’s Tacos CEO Mike Rypka no longer ‘interim’

The concept’s founder replaces GJ Hart, who retired last year

Torchy’s Tacos founder Mike Rypka is back as CEO, the company said Thursday.

Rypka was serving as interim CEO for the Austin, Texas-based chain following the retirement of former CEO GJ Hart, which was announced in November.

Though he led the concept from its start in 2006 to 2018, when Hart was named CEO, Rypka said he was always involved behind the scenes.

“This is the company I built and I love, and I am humbled to return as CEO of Torchy’s Tacos,” he said in a statement. “My dream for Torchy’s began out of a small food truck in downtown Austin, and it has been incredible to reflect on what we have built over the last 15 years.”

Before launching Torchy’s, Rypka was a corporate chef for organizations that included the World Bank, MTV Studios, Disney Animation and Dell. Even today, he is often in the kitchen inventing new flavor profiles, the company said. The chain took on a group of new investors in 2020 that included private-equity firm General Atlantic, as well as D1 Capital Partners, T. Rowe Price, Lone Pine Capital and XN.

Torchy’s is known for its menu of unique tacos, queso and margaritas at more than 100 locations across 11 states.

“I am proud that we have remained intensely focused on innovation, serving up the best Damn Good Tacos you’ve ever tasted, while continuing to elevate the guest experience through initiatives like hand-made tortillas, made-to-order, piping hot tacos, optimized kitchen designs, and delivering exceptional hospitality every time you visit,” Rypka continued. “Through the years, we’ve never lost sight of caring for our people, always providing opportunities for them to grow, while establishing a fun and unique culture that celebrates individuality. While I’ve always been involved behind the scenes, I am excited to serve as CEO as we work to bring Torchy’s to more communities so that everyone can experience our passion for made-from-scratch Damn Good Food.”

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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