For late-night cravings or a quick meal on the go, Taco Bell is always there. The fast food chain, unlike fellow restaurants like McDonald’s or Kentucky Fried Chicken, has been a staple drive-thru option for a Mexican-inspired menu with a cool vibe. If you’re up at 2 a.m. craving a taco with the shell made out of Doritos and a bright teal Mountain Dew Baja Blast, you know this is pretty much the only option for you.
Over the years, Taco Bell has changed a lot, from its redesigned restaurants to the revamped menu (with many fan-favorite options unfortunately thrown to the wayside). And the franchise only seems to be getting bigger, as Taco Bell Cantinas have introduced alcohol-spiked drinks, Taco Bell has put on taco-themed weddings for its loyal customers, and the company even opened a short-term Taco Bell hotel.
But Taco Bell would be nothing without its employees. While some might think a fast-food job is just a means to an end until something better comes along, working at Taco Bell may have a lot more benefits than you might think. The company is very into investing in its employees, with education and career-building programs like the Taco Bell Foundation’s Live Más Scholarship. They also often offer an array of benefits to some employees, including maternity leave and tuition reimbursement, among other perks.
But sometimes, all those perks come with some unusual roles and guidelines. These are some really weird rules Taco Bell employees have to follow.
Employees can’t leave if they buy discounted food
One controversial rule that made headlines in recent years is the fact that Taco Bell requires their employees to stay at the restaurant on their lunch breaks — if they use their employee discount to buy food. Now, employees are free to leave during their lunch if they consume food they’ve gotten elsewhere. But if they stocked up on a few bean burritos and nacho fries from their own franchise, they must consume them in-store. According to Inc., the company’s logic is that it doesn’t want its employees using their discount to buy food for others. Making their employees dine-in is an attempt to mitigate what they see as a potentially costly loophole.
Several Taco Bell team members weren’t happy with the change, however. Some staff members felt it was unfair and that they should be paid during their lunch if they were forced to stay on the premises. Yet the company ended up winning the approval of the 9th Circuit Court, according to a decision posted by Bloomberg Law. So, there’s no real way to sneak Crunchwrap Supremes to your friends in the parking lot on your lunch if you’re a working cashier at your local Taco Bell.
Taco Bell Support Center staff can’t bring in lunch from competitors
According to a thread on r/AskReddit, Taco Bell’s Restaurant Support Center also has a strange rule about what its staff can do during their lunch breaks. A Taco Bell employee stated that staff members at the franchise’s Restaurant Support Center weren’t allowed to bring in any food from any competitor or they would be "disciplined." The thread was posted 8 years ago, so it’s unclear if this rule is still in place at this time. But regardless, it would surely limit someone’s fast food lunch options if they work at the center. In fact, it sounds like the restaurant would prefer workers to pick Taco Bell all day, every day.
The Reddit commentator also said that the "best part" was that, after lunch, the trash cans outside of the building were always filled with the telltale trash of competitor’s food anyway. So despite the rule, staffers clearly got around it by eating their lunch outside of the building rather than at their desks.
Every item is weighed on a scale
If you’re a frequent patron of the Taco Bell drive thru, you might claim to see differences between the same order put in at different franchise locations. Perhaps this means that you drive the extra 5 minutes for the Taco Bell spot that you believe puts more meat into your quesadilla, or has that one employee who is simply the best at rolling up your burrito. But that’s not necessarily the case, given how the restaurant manages its ingredients. According to a Taco Bell manager writing for Thrillist, every item at Taco Bell is actually weighed on a scale. And if the weight is even tenths of an ounce off the target weight, employees still have to throw the item out and start over.
The manager explained that, if a soft taco goes on the digital scale, it is supposed to weigh 1.6oz. Yes, exactly. "We all train with a scale, and we have to get used to doling out the ingredients precisely, in order to make everything the correct weight in the end," the manager said. "It’s very hard to get that right."
There’s a specific technique to rolling burritos
When it comes to rolling burritos, one Taco Bell employee on Reddit says there’s an artful technique taught in training. On r/TacoBell, the employee was asked about why, at some locations, the items are evenly distributed in burritos and other items. While at others, the ingredients are clearly split up and not well-mixed. The worker says that they are taught to fold items like an H. This means that they’re tasked with putting all of the fillings in the middle of the tortilla. That way once it’s combined, you get a more even bite of everything inside the wrapped meal.
But for those items that aren’t an even mix, the employee said that it was due to people folding their items in a less than ideal "I" shape. This means that, when it comes time to fold up the burrito, the process simply doesn’t spread out the ingredients in the same way. Thus, they are all sequestered in one section of the wrap. It stands that some managers may implement that H-shaped burrito rolling rule, finicky as it may seem, to keep customers happy. And if you’re venturing into making Taco Bell copycat recipes at home, you should adopt the T-shaped rolling method to make a picture-perfect and evenly mixed copy.
Employees can’t hang around Taco Bell property
If you’ve worked at a bar or restaurant, you know it’s not uncommon for you to become something of a regular at work when you’re not on the clock. You might stop in on your day off to say hi to coworkers and grab a bite to eat, for instance. But according to a 2015 Taco Bell employee handbook, the restaurant’s workers are actually not allowed to spend any time at their place of work when they’re not on shift.
Specifically, the handbook states that employees cannot hang around their Taco Bell location inside the restaurant, in the parking lot, or on company property when they aren’t working. The wording doesn’t make it entirely whether or not employees can run through the drive thru on their day off to grab a meal or not, but one suspects that it’s not strictly approved, either.
Employees cannot remake orders without a receipt
Another brave Taco Bell employee took to Reddit on r/IAmA to answer the internet’s most burning questions about the fast food chain. And in somewhat a peculiar twist, they revealed that regardless of an item’s condition, the employees are not supposed to remake any food without a receipt.
The revelation came about when a Reddit user mentioned that one time, they ordered a side of cinnamon crisps that allegedly contained a dead cockroach in the bag. They were given a replacement but were not offered a refund or anything of a similar nature. In their reply, the employee explained that they "only told to please the customer", so, in their individual interpretation, it’s often actually up to the worker on how they wish to deal with a flubbed Taco Bell order. According to that particular Taco Bell worker, they will just remake someone’s order if it is made incorrectly by an employee or even give out free drinks or desserts if the contents of someone’s to-go bag are less than satisfactory. But don’t expect that at every Taco Bell location you visit. Just to be safe, remember to hold on to your receipt until you’ve scarfed down the whole meal.
There’s a formula to handing out sauce packets
Sometimes when you order Taco Bell, the number of hot sauce packets a worker throws in your bag can vary — quite a bit, in fact. It’s not uncommon to seemingly not get enough of that sauce for all of your items, leaving you high and dry. Yet, at other times, it can feel as if your fridge or pantry is stocked with a variety of those Taco Bell sauce packets for weeks on end. And while it may all seem completely random, it’s technically not. According to a pair of employees speaking on r/tacobell, there’s actually a method to the sauce packet madness.
According to one Taco Bell manager, employees are told to give out only one sauce packet per item. But, the twist comes when people ask for a "handful" or "a lot." As you may guess, that doesn’t equal a specific number. So, when a location is slammed and the workers are expected to get orders out "as fast as possible," some employees opt to give plenty of packets to avoid any potentially disastrous hold-ups at the counter or drive thru window. Ultimately, if you’re looking for a specific number of sauce packets with your next Taco Bell order, you should just make things easy on the busy employees there and give them a specific number. And consider recycling those packets when you’re done, too.
At some locations, rushes determine when stores close
Taco Bell is synonymous with many things, and supremely satisfying food after a late night out is surely one of those. Therefore, it’s always a popular spot for people in need of a whole lot of meat, cheese, and carbs on a budget. And according to a Taco Bell manager on r/tacobell, that oftentimes inevitable late-night rush can sometimes determine the exact time that employees will finally get to clock out of their shift.
At some Taco Bell locations, the manager explained, if the staff makes $75 or more in the hour before closing, they have to stay open an extra 30 minutes. It’s not clear how many locations implement this rule, but it’s not too far-fetched, considering the notion that the franchise could make a fair amount of money if a crowd of late diners is clamoring for burritos and Grande Crunchwraps. After all, Taco Bell is one of those places that often get super busy after midnight. So rather than turning people away at the window or counter, it makes sense that they’d accept those orders past closing time if the line is still wrapped around the building.
Employees must wear their hats in a specific way
As with many fast food establishments, the uniform worn by employees is all-important. When you have hundreds of locations across the U.S., many restaurant franchises have determined that it’s key when customers are greeted with more or less the same menu items made the exact same way by employees in the same uniforms — no matter where they’re at. For many customers, it’s a comforting sign of uniformity. And, for business owners, that comfort hopefully translates into reliable sales. So according to Taco Bell employees answering questions on Indeed for prospective new workers, even a seemingly small detail of the Taco Bell hat is meant to be worn one particular way.
One questioner asked if Taco Bell allowed its employees to switch up the way they wear the hat. But according to the answers, there’s only one official to wear the hat with the bill to the front. "There is one specific way to wear the hat, with the bill to the front. Taco Bell is quite strict in it’s uniform policies," wrote one respondent. For most managers, then, even the matter of an employee’s hat angle simply isn’t up for debate.