Not long ago Jen Agg mused on twitter if  maybe the restaurant business is not that cool

 

 

It used to be cool to work in a restaurant. Like the first few months of a passionate relationship. Fun, exciting, with new experiences, and cool to tell your friends you worked in one of the best restaurants in the city.

Then reality sets in. Common themes start to emerge and the reasons you got out of the last restaurant relationship start to make themselves known. Things aren’t as cool as they once seemed.

It could be the long hours but any work that is done well and with consideration takes time and hard work. However, the hours of the day are very different than most people and getting home around midnight or later most nights is not for everyone.

But the time spent there is very social and you get to hang out with cool people and secretly judge costumers with your new friends in an attempt to fit in. Then that stops being cool, or owners may tell you to wear sweaters in the summer, and there is nothing cool about that.

Perhaps it is the lack of management in most restaurants? In almost every other industry there are courses and often tests to improve management. Managing people is not easy. Especially waiters who tend to be Type A and due to their need to judge customers often feel superior, especially to their managers.

And that’s not cool.

Then there is the increased awareness of the #MeToo movement in the restaurant industry. It all seemed to start in the kitchen or Back Of House, where the chef would berate his or her team in a weakened military attempt to gain power and control. Men were first to run kitchens, which is surprising as historically women were found doing most of the cooking at home. But the male dominated kitchens proliferated over the years and drove a many good females out and into the Front of the House.

Which is not cool. They deserve the choice, not the push.

And once in front, the power and control dynamic of the kitchen continued but in a far subtler manner with more sexual subtext. Food and wine is so sexually tense to begin with and it is easy for one little comment to open the pathway to much more misogynist behavior. And that’s not cool either.

But the money is good and it’s mostly cash. Which is very cool.

What is not cool is the mismanagement of that cash. Lets say for example you work in a cool restaurant and you submit your cash into a tip pool. Imagine showing up for a job where they say the wage is one amount and that they will take away a portion of your cash incentives, then distribute them as they see fit yet not tell you where the money goes. It is a bit like a tax, which no one should mind paying, but without any transparency, is not only disrespectful, it is not cool. Not to mention how difficult it is to manage your own personal finances when you don’t know how much you will receive or in some cases when.

But you know what is cool? Meeting new people at every table. Having the opportunity to get to know people in such an intimate setting as eating and drinking. Sharing food and wine is the cornerstone of civilization. Sharing thoughts and ideas about life’s hopes and dreams over food and wine has been done since the beginning of time. And being able to be a small part of that and provide a space where people can enjoy themselves is cool.