When I moved to New York, I didn’t plan on working in a restaurant. Restaurants were never part of “the plan,” in general, especially because the service industry seems to be looked at as a graveyard for starving artists. But one summer, after the nannying job I had ended, my roommate suggested I apply to the restaurant where she worked. I was hesitant but needed a job, and, lo and behold, choosing to accept that job hosting at a Soho gem was one of the best decisions I ever made.
I’ve learned so much and have fallen in love with the fine dining industry in New York. I think anyone can benefit from working in a restaurant, even for a short time, because there is so much to be gained from the experience(s) had. It can have its challenges, for sure, but it’s ultimately character building and can be fun if you’re in the right place! For creatives, I feel it’s especially beneficial.
These are 4 reasons why I love working in a restaurant…
1) Every night is like a production.
It hit me one day when I realized that each night before service it seemed as though we were getting ready to put on a production as we prepped the dining rooms and had our pre-shift meeting. You never know what’s going to happen. There are patterns, but each service is varied and slightly unpredictable. You have to be flexible, and that’s definitely something I had to learn while working the job because I’m not naturally able to adapt and improvise so easily.
2) My job is (literally) serving others.
Working in hospitality presents the opportunity to learn just that: hospitality. It’s easy to think of it as a burden when it’s your job, but I love that I’m consistently cultivating humility and an attitude of serving others. (Yay, character development!) I am not only meeting the needs of guests and helping create a wonderful experience for them but also participating within a team, working with and for my teammates to create this experience.
It’s fascinating to see how chefs curate a menu. They create the most beautiful, exciting, interesting dishes, and the way it all comes together is fun to witness up close. It’s given me such an appreciation for ingredients and what they accomplish together in their final form. (Also, beverage pairing is a whole other element that excites and intrigues me!) You know all those fancy Instagram dishes you double tap? Imagine getting up close and personal with those beauties every day.
4) Human interaction is everything.
This has two parts: First, when you’re in the front-of-house of a restaurant most of your job involves a lot of human interaction. For some, this might be daunting, but it’s great for developing social and communication skills, which, for me, has been a big deal. Second, what you can observe of human nature, psychology, and behavior is pretty fascinating. People are interesting. A restaurant can be a fantastic source for gathering stories and characters (especially if you’re a creative in need of inspiration). Plus, you have the opportunity to meet a lot of really cool, talented people.