I have been working in restaurants for a long time.
I have always said that all people should have to work for at least six months in the food industry. It’s a strange business. The hours are long, weekends off aren’t a thing, shift ending times are more of an estimated guess than anything, and all the while, your financial well-being is in large part left up to elements outside of your control.
For the most part, there isn’t a single staff member at One6three who doesn’t have at least five years of experience in the industry. We’re good at our jobs and we take a lot of pride in the way we make our food, serve our food, and treat our guests. If you were with us this past Sunday night, you know that it was a busy night. We hustled hard, and at the end of the night, I looked at our staff, still smiling, still laughing together as they rolled the nightly dough, swept the front of the house, mopped the back of the house, and counted up the register. I got the same sense of pride from being a part of that group as I did from finishing my Master’s Degree or teaching high schoolers to write essays at my teaching job in New Haven. And yet, there is a difference between those accomplishments. Service sector workers don’t get the respect or prestige that they deserve. Too often I have asked people what they do and they say, meekly, “I’m a waitress” or “I manage a kitchen” or “I deliver food” as if those jobs aren’t as good as any other job. As if making someone delicious food isn’t valuable.
So here’s to you restaurant workers of the world! Here’s to never having a weekend off. Here’s to long hours on your feet. Here’s to the non-existant break. Here’s to coming home covered in food particles. Here’s to the double shift, the night that wouldn’t end, and the hustle. Here’s to the customer who has never worked in the industry (let us bless them with our patience) and here’s to the customer who has (let us give thanks!). Here’s to the fellow staff that become your weird second family.
You are important.
You are valued.
I see you restaurant workers, and I salute you!