1. If you don’t have a thick skin and complete abandonment of political correctness, don’t go near the kitchen. You will immediately learn there that what you consider to be off-limits is just the baseline of someone else’s sense of humor.
2. Bad tippers are the worst kinds of people, and are often terrible in many other ways than just being cheap.
3. Correction, the worst people are those who don’t tip or tip very badly, and accompany their financial insult with a snarky note left on the receipt.
4. The pain of a bad seating chart is a real one, and not a single customer will care or understand that you got slammed while someone else is totally dead.
5. The difference between the people who have never worked in food service, and the people who have, is always clearly visible. And a lot of time it has to do with the basic degree of respect they give to the people who are serving them.
6. Make back-of-house’s life easy, they will make yours easy. Working is always about scratching someone’s back so they’ll scratch yours, and you’d better not break that chain.
7. The only people you’re going to be able to hang out with — and often date — are by default going to be other people in the industry. So you better like the people you work with it, because no one else is going to be coming out with you at 1 AM.
8. There is absolutely zero shame in eating the plate that gets sent back barely-touched because someone either misunderstood what they were ordering or is incredibly fussy about their perfectly-good food. People who will judge you over shit like that are people who don’t know the joys of a pristine plate of onion rings coming back to you when you are starving.
9. The most important friend you will make is the one who will cover for you while you eat, crouched next to some appliance in the kitchen. True friendship is about taking the fall so someone can eat.
10. There are a lot of people who are going to look down on you for working a restaurant, and treat you with massive disrespect, and you just have to get over it and remind yourself to never be like that in your own life.
11. If you are good to your server, your experience will be about a thousand times better, and you might even get free stuff if you’re lucky.
12. There is nothing better than a chef who is currently trying out new stuff and has tons of excess food for everyone to try. The best friend anyone can have is a good chef.
13. Line cooks are some of the hardest-working, most humble and honest people in the working world. And many of them happen to be felons. And when you see them get off a 14-hour shift and still manage to make jokes with you at the end of it, you realize that every judgment we make about the guy with neck tattoos is completely off base.
14. If you’re a female waitress/hostess/bartender, some of the more drunk male customers will take it upon themselves to also designate you “professional receiver of gross comments and inappropriate touches.”
15. A good manager is the one who will shut shit like that down, because they would rather lose the money from that customer than have someone who mistreats their staff.
16. Even the best establishment can be run into the ground by a petty, spiteful manager.
17. There is no worse an experience on this planet than working a busy brunch shift when you are brutally hungover.
18. If you don’t make friends with the bartender from the get-go, your life is going to be difficult. And you quickly learn that this also applies to the places you don’t work at — treat your bartender well, reap the rewards.
19. The calm before the storm (also known as the rush) is one of the most precious, fleeting moments in life. And as soon as you see that first customer looking at the specials board just a little too long, you know that it’s already over.
20. Never be the person who comes in just as the kitchen’s closing and orders something really complicated. Just don’t be that person.
21. In the best restaurants, you’ll become like a little family, and live through several very important moments together (especially because you don’t get days off for normal, human things such as holidays or birthdays).
22. There will be one item on the menu that you fall in love with so much that you actually start having dreams about it, and go through withdrawal when you don’t have it for a long enough stretch of time. You can actually get that way over, say, a cream of crab soup. It’s like heroin.
23. Going back to a place you used to work and seeing all the old group — and getting to eat and drink all your favorites again — is one of the best feelings you can have.