The Chaotic Fun and Connection of Working in a Dying Restaurant
As with most of my thoughts and theories, this probably came from Anthony Bourdain; I believe everyone should have to work in the restaurant industry for a bit. There’s a humility that comes from pouring people pints, cleaning tables, making lattes, doing dishes, flipping burgers, dunking fries, taking orders, and carrying a precarious armful of beautiful food you will not be eating to patrons who have zero appreciation for your efforts.
It is always surprising how many people have done a stint in a restaurant, but it should be mandatory for a summer in our teens. I think customer asshole-ery would all but be eliminated throughout the entire economy, not just in eateries.
I’ve had the honor of doing just about every job in a restaurant, starting with washing dishes, moving to line cook, being a delivery guy, and then finishing my career serving drinks and food behind the bar.
They were up and down years I look back on with immense fondness and nostalgia. I’m immediately taken there anytime the whir of industrial exhaust fans blows the scent of a deep fryer my way, when I see a group of apron-wearing smokers in an alley, or watch servers take a tiny window of time to huddle, swap quick stories, and crack up.
I miss my time in the industry, and I especially miss the camaraderie and bartending at the one-hundred-year-old institution of a restaurant in my hometown: Gino’s.
As with most of my thoughts and theories, this probably came from Anthony Bourdain; I believe everyone should have to work in the restaurant industry for a bit.
It was a classic two-story rectangle of an early-twentieth-century building, and, after the Italian American cuisine, was long ago painted half red half green with white trim. The restaurant stood on a corner on the western edge of our main street, its large front windows on each side of the door boasting classic neon ‘drinks’ and ‘Coca-Cola’ signs.
Working there, I felt like a part of the community and finally learned who the city manager was, got…