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Why Restaurants Are The Worst Place To Work

Updated on April 15, 2013
Fake smiles all day.
Fake smiles all day.
This well-done steak was terrible and it took 20 minutes.
This well-done steak was terrible and it took 20 minutes.
Hurry up, I got to get to work.
Hurry up, I got to get to work.

First off, I feel sorry for anyone who works in the restaurant industry. I did it for eleven years and I will never return to it. There are personal and professional reasons why I am choosing to change careers, but the bottom line is that working in the restaurant industry sucks.

I was a General Manager at my last job for almost five years. Of those five years, my restaurant only struggled for nine months. That was enough to get me fired. It didn't matter that I was with the company for almost eight years. It didn't matter that I was considered the "go-to" GM in the area. All that mattered were the nine months we struggled. My boss fired me and replaced me with someone he is rumored to have had a past sexual relationship with. This is the restaurant business.

Managers are pressured for results. It is one of the most stressful jobs you can have. The stress is then passed on to the hourly employee. Cook times are never fast enough. Speed of service is never fast enough. Sales are never high enough. It doesn't matter what the metric is, there is always stress to raise it. Servers are given a million things to sell, and still are criticized after the shift if we don't hit our goals. Grill and prep cooks must hit a food cost goal, so God forbid they mess up an order. If someone working at Wal-Mart drops a bag of Doritos on the floor does it matter? Drop food on the floor in a restaurant and you could be documented.

Let's talk about servers in particular for a minute. In some states, servers only get paid $2.13/hr. Think about that for those of you that think it is OK to tip $1 per person eating. It is not OK! If you get great service you tip 15-20% and no less. If you can't afford that, then don't go out to eat. Yelling at your server is never OK. It's a brash human behavior. Would you yell at your doctor or dentist that way? People make mistakes, and servers make a lot because they have a lot of things to remember throughout an entire shift. God bless servers. They put up with the most crap from the company they work for and the customer.

As for customers, the restaurant industry has the worst. They want their food fast, and they don't want to wait for anything. I dare someone to go to Wal-Mart, wait in line for twenty minutes, and demand a discount. Sounds outrageous, right? It's par for the course in the restaurant industry. Buy a video game that sucks. Take it back to Wal-Mart? Nope, you bought it so it's yours. Eat a whole steak at a steakhouse, complain to the manager that it was terrible, and you won't have to pay for it. The double standards are unbelievable. If the manager doesn't give the discount to the angry customer, they call the corporate office and receive money that way. Next time your favorite restaurant raises their prices, think of this. It's the customer's fault. For those customers that have a thirty minute lunch break and go to a sit-down restaurant, you are all idiots. Nobody is going to rush your food ahead of someone who was there before you so you can make it back to work in time. Pack your lunch.

A lot of restaurants get regular customers that think they are entitled to free food and extra service than other customers. These people need to get a life. I had a gentleman who would bang his spoon on his coffee cup if it was empty until a server filled it. Finally, the server got sick of this guy, told him off, and he never returned. Was I mad at the server? Nope. Would I have been in trouble from my boss if they knew about it? Yep. That's the restaurant industry.

There are a ton of great people who work in restaurants who are treated like crap by their employer or the customer. I feel sorry for these people. I used to be one of them. I treated people like crap because crap rolls downhill. I have nothing but the highest respect for anyone who goes to work every day to a restaurant, because it is the most stressful and unrewarding job on the market.

The above is the author's opinion, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of any restaurant company or employee.


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    • profile image

      On the fly 

      22 months ago

      Total bullshit line of work, extremely unprofessional. 13 year veteran, exec chef for the past 5 years. It's like living your life with a huge disfunctional family (and you do spend most of your life there) and god forbid you need a day off, pulling teeth is easier. Do yourself a favor a get out.

    • profile image


      23 months ago

      A few years back, while going through a divorce, I decided I would take on a weekend server job at Applebee's, to supplement my M-F job as a paralegal. What a mistake! I did indeed only get paid $2.13 an hour. The clientele at Applebee's was low-class, with the average diner thinking a couple bucks on a $40 table was acceptable. No one was making any money and the only people that stuck with the job were high school students, living with their parents. Despite being much older than a high school student, customers spoke to me like I was beneath them, asking me when I was going to get a real job and when was I going to go to college. I initially would explain that I had bachelor's degree AND was a certified paralegal with a state govt. job M-F, but after awhile I decided it was none of their business and that I didn't owe rude people any explanations. I had customers make racial remarks to me (I am white) and the management would not do anything about it. I had a customer scream at me, literally scream because the bartender poured him the wrong beer. I immediately gave another server $5 and said "that table is all yours". My first table out of training, I explained to the couple I had just completed training and to be please be patient with me. They smiled in my face but then went home and wrote an angry 3 page letter, demanding compensation and my termination, because I did not offer them dessert. I was not fired (I was written up) but they were rewarded with a giftcard. People would eat their entire meal and say they wanted a refund because they did not like it. People would run out on their tabs. I had a customer who's child puked at the hostess stand, she stepped over it and proceeded to seat herself and her vomit-covered child and insist the manager give her a free dessert because she was embarrassed. I didn't last long, because 1. there truly is no money to be made at an Applebee's restaurant- I lost money because you are taxed by the IRS on your total SALES, not your tips and if people are not tipping or under tipping, you end up paying for the privilege of waiting on them-factor in also that you have to tip out the bartender regardless if he made you drinks or not and 2. I was starting to hate, absolutely HATE the human race. I hated them for the animal-like behavior, their greediness, their lies, their cheapness and their total disregard for fellow humans.

    • profile image

      Michael Dembenski 

      2 years ago

      Yes it does suck, like last night as a dishwasher I decided to go the extra mile and take the bartenders garbage out. what happened a business man thought i was the cook and started yelling at me that a item was forgotten until a waitress had to come over to calm him down

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      After working in restaurants I sometimes avoid going just because of these reasons. The employees are under payed and constantly looked at like low class citizens. One day the employees will unionize and restaurants will be in trouble.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Jeff - you are 100% right. Every day there is another ridiculous challenge to overcome. Today; the customer who wants an entire ticket price refunded from a visit over 2 weeks ago because they "felt rushed". Well.... maybe you shouldn't come in and sit down for dinner 10 minutes before the dining room closes in a fast food restaurant. Grab that grub to go and be on your way. Try taking that empty shoe box back to your local retailer and see if you get your money back. Hello folks - it doesn't work that way.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Back of the house (dishwasher, cooks,etc.) work twice as hard as frount of house(*servers*,hosts,etc) and in most cases make a third of what they do. Tell me what's messed up again?

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Damn. The life if a restaurant server. There is nothing like it. That is certain.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I have worked in the food service industry for 25 years and been a manager for almost 14. And leaving was the best thing I ever did! The only good thing was the money and some of the benefits. But the rest......*shudders*. Everything you said was true and then some. Don't forget about the unwritten rule that you don't call in sick. Not only managers.....crew as well. It is a double standard. You train your staff on food safety and sanitation and tell them about food borne illness and not to work if they have certain symptoms.....and then they get sick and either can't afford to call out or try to and are told they need to come in!! I lost track of how many cooksor servers I sent home because they were puking out back and the other manager told them they had to work/couldn't go home. There needs to be a lot of changes in this industry. People can get hired in a restaurant very easily - no hs diploma is required. Criminal history is usually ok. A lot of times you do not need experience and can be under 18. Some positions don't even require you to speak English.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Jeff is absolutely correct on everything. Remember this - " never mess with your cook or your doctor "

    • Jeff Lane profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Lane 

      5 years ago from Evansville, IN

      I have published a book based on this article. The link is at the end of the hub.

    • stacytm profile image


      5 years ago from London

      I've never worked in a fast food restaurant, and I don't think I will...

    • profile image

      kayla fahrner 

      5 years ago

      Lpve this Jeff iry hero and u will always be my favorite. Manager at bobs I currently work at applebees now and I quit Bob Evans because of this reason here Jeff was an awesome manager and deserves better

    • jujanester profile image


      5 years ago from Philippines

      ...Nice hub, I used to work in fast food restaurant before, and I agree with you, I was a counter crew before in which I take orders from customers. Whenever I go to work, I get drained as soon as I enter my workplace, seeing long lines and the hassle of the need to move fast (2 minutes assembly of the order) adding some customers who don't want to wait for their orders. It's really draining and super tiring. Great hub!


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