20 Counterintuitive Things That Only Happen at Restaurants



That elegant plate? Composed by a chef covered in tattoos and piercings.

The “invisible” service? Made possible because of three people keeping an eye on you at all times.

Restaurants—those magical places that have the power to transport you—are truly paradoxical. Here are twenty outcomes when hospitality life doesn’t exactly match real life.

  1. LOL doesn’t equal “laugh out loud.” It’s shorthand to treat the guest with “lots of love”.
  2. No supermodel spreads or family pics. The only pics in the kitchen are of the top restaurant critics.
  3. Don’t ask “how are things going?” That implies that things could go wrong. And if things are going wrong—you should identify it before the guest gets a chance to tell you.
  4. The 8 pm table at the restaurant that doesn’t take reservations … is the ultimate reservation.
  5. Chefs dream of leaving their well-funded, well-frequented restaurants for underground, semi-illegal pop-ups.[bctt tweet=”Restaurants—those magical places that have the power to transport you—are truly paradoxical.”]
  6. You eat the richest dishes on earth … and still lose weight.
  7. Dishes might be assembled with tweezers and molds, but family meal is full contact: messy, taken by the giant spoonful, or eaten with your hands.
  8. Your home refrigerator is filled with nothing but champagne, whiskey, mayo, and eggs (organic and free-range, of course).
  9. Everyone is military-precise during service, but a flake in their social life.
  10. Despite what you see on TV, the best kitchens are absolutely quiet.
  11. Maître d’s aren’t stalking their exes online … they’re stalking guests to learn their likes and dislikes.
  12. When people are starting their weekend, that’s when you’re starting your workweek.
  13. Unlike most people, you don’t mind tourists. They often err on the side of over-tipping.
  14. After a long night of punishing work where all you can think about is sleep … you still go out drinking afterwards.
  15. Celebs are okay. But you light up when you see regulars.
  16. But … the obnoxious loud guy (a regular) gets better service than the polite nice guy (a newbie).[bctt tweet=”…hospitality is very simple. Feed people. Make them feel welcome. Nourish them, body and soul.”]
  17. No matter what your financial situation, you’ll always buy a drink for another friend in the industry … if he or she doesn’t buy yours first.
  18. Guests might be impressed that you can memorize their orders, but that’s the easy part. You also remember that Mrs. Graham says she likes her steak rare but really likes it medium, Mr. Kochevar is allergic to citrus, and the new specials—all ten of them.
  19. You celebrate Thanksgiving in December, the December holidays in January, and Valentine’s Day … never. Who has time to date?
  20. Despite the hype around restaurants—chefs as rock stars, yearlong wait lists, tables only available to plebeians at 5pm and 10:30pm—hospitality is very simple. Feed people. Make them feel welcome. Nourish them, body and soul.

FoodWhorePB c


Jessica Tom’s debut novel Food Whore is an insider’s cleverly veiled exposé on the New York restaurant lifestyle. From the foie gras to the peach pear tart, each page literally drips with anticipation. Check her out today because she’s tomorrow’s hottest food writer.

– Will Goldfarb, Chef/Owner Room4Dessert and Willpowder

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