Why do we love the restaurant industry? Why do we love dealing with the rare distasteful guest, the unruly child, or the 12% tipper? Some say it’s a trap, some say it’s the worst dead end job we can have. People question why we chose this career path (yes, career), they question why we would choose something that occupies up our nights, weekends, and holidays. You don’t always approve. You drill us on where we went to school or if we are in school, what we plan on doing “after this,” when we plan on getting a “9-5.”
This isn’t a phase.
We love this industry. Love. It’s hard work, it’s dirty work, but 99% of the time it’s incredibly gratifying work. We can’t please everyone, but damnit we try. Restaurants are here to provide you with an experience. From the garnish on your dish, to presetting your salad fork, the dimly lit bulbs, to flower heights, restaurants are here to please you. Whether it’s bringing you your regular drink before you ask, or splitting an entrée in the kitchen, addressing you by your name, or greeting you with a champagne toast because we heard it’s your anniversary, we are here to make you remember. We sincerely apologize when things aren’t up to your standards, we refire your dish when your twelve ounce New York sirloin well done is too “tough,” we plate you a dessert when your friend whispers to us on their way to the bathroom that it’s your birthday.
Things get frustrating, don’t let us fool you. Dealing with you can be difficult at times, but that will never affect our demeanor. We are your server, plain and simple. We are here to serve you, to make you happy, to get you whatever you need. Sure, we don’t appreciate the waving of the wine glass, the snapping of the fingers, the scowls when we recite the special, but none of that matters. We are here to serve you. We make jokes while passing each other in the kitchen and move on. If you don’t have a sense of humor in this industry, you won’t make it. We promise you, you will not make it.
But there’s something about this place, about this business, that keeps us needing more. It’s like a high all the time; indescribable, messy, perfect. An empty restaurant before the doors open has a feeling, one hard to put in words. The chefs hustling in the kitchen, the morning light, the cold hard marble bar. It’s the calm before the storm. Before the hundreds of guests, the dozens of dishes being pushed from the kitchen, the shaking of martinis, we can’t get enough. We are addicted.
We fall in love with our regulars, our co-workers, dishes from past menus we wish we could get back (oh duck rillette, how we miss you), craft elixirs, a certain wine. We fall in love when the whole restaurant is in the weeds, with our jokes, our danskos. We fall in love with the reactions guests give us after their first bite, when guests request us for their 40th birthday. We fall in love with guests when they realize we remember their name, the sarcasm, the dishwashers, table five, a napkin fold.
We fall in love with the connections we make with restaurant folk everywhere. We fall in love with how sexy a dish can look, we fall in love with Sunday doubles. We fall in love with each other all over again when we finally get to sit down after the long shift, favorite cocktail in hand, anxiously waiting to do it all again.