The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Working in a Restaurant

Soft jazzy music plays in the background accompanied by the polite clanging of cutlery on porcelain. The lights are a soft warm glow and the conversations flood but not overwhelm the space and sound that is accumulatively jovial. As you move from the front of the house to the back, the scene devolves in complete food-based chaos. Pans clang violently on stainless steel counters. Fire erupts around you as the sound of sizzling meats overwhelms. Sweat drips from your brow and saturates your shirt. The heat is stifling. Obscenities and insults are freely exchanged. It’s not all bad but there are good and ugly things when you work in a restaurant.

There is always work to do

Work in a restaurant is never-ending. You have to prep before lunch and dinner, which involves cutting, boiling and even purchasing the necessary ingredients. The areas you work in have to be immaculately clean and most times you’ll have to help someone else with their prep.


Things can get very stressful during the peak moments of lunch or dinner rushes. When the staff hits their stride though everyone works together in high harmony. Restaurant work is very physically demanding and people that do it bond very quickly due to this. There’s a lot of camaraderie behind those swinging doors of the kitchen.

You will be exposed to the best and worse smells

The smell of a well cooked meal is something that can only be described as triumphant. It reminds you of the warmth of home and creates the expectation that you feel before a great kiss. At the same time take those exact ingredients and overcook them and you get something that smells a little like burnt plastic extinguished with wet hay.

You will be permanently disfigured

From popping oil to pots that could fit you and a small dog in, full of bubbling liquid. That beautifully cut sirloin? The knife used to cut it has to be sharp enough to split a hair and can cut you deeply with the smallest of effort. Now add people constantly bumping into you and someone yelling at you to that. Every shift you work you will go home with a new battle scar.

Most Restaurant workers have jacked up backs

If you’re on your feet for 8-12 hours a day for five days a week (if you’re lucky) eventually your body’s going to say: “You’re an idiot I give up.” Most people that have worked in the food industry for many years have serious problems with their backs and knees.

It’s a zero responsibility job after hours

Most jobs will have you thinking about things you have to do tomorrow, what you didn’t do today and how you should have done something differently. In the restaurant business (unless you’re the owner) you show up, put your apron on, do your work and go home. Sometimes there are errands to run before you go to work but that’s not very mentally taxing. As I mentioned above, it is also relatively physically tasking so once you get home it lights out!

Have you worked in the restaurant industry? Did you enjoy your time in the trenches or have an interesting story to share? Then let us know in the comment section below!




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