50 Signs You’re Working in a Bad Restaurant

Anyone who’s ever waited tables knows how hard it is to transition from one restaurant job to another. To help make the process a little smoother I’ve compiled a list of warning signs to help waiters avoid working in dysfunctional shitholes.

1) They hire you the moment you say, “I’m looking for a job.”

2) You start working Friday and Saturday nights the first week. (That’s because waiters quit with alarming regularity.)

3) Your boss doesn’t ask you to fill out a W-2 or ask for ID of any kind.

4) Training consists of a cursory tour of the restaurant and the head waiter telling you “sink or swim.”

5) The restaurant doesn’t pay new hires a training wage. Trainees often get used as unpaid slave labor and are told after their “probationary period” that “things aren’t working out.”

6) There are porn screensavers on the owner’s computer.

7) There are porn screen savers on the POS computer.

8) The kitchen guys have names for the mice.

9) The employee bathroom is so gross it would just be better to just have a hole in the ground.

10) The toilet paper in the employee bathroom could double for sandpaper.

11) The owner’s banging the hostesses. (How déclassé)

12) There’s always too many waiters on the floor or not enough.

13) Employees threaten each other with physical violence.

14) The manager solicits bribes for good sections or Saturday night shifts.

15) Owner, GM, or chef screams at employees ALL THE TIME.

16) Owner, GM, or chef makes fun of a staff person’s significant others.

17) If a waiter makes a mistake the kitchen staff would rather go on a power trip and watch the server squirm instead of fixing the problem. Of course, the customer suffers.

18) The chef refuses to make reasonable substitutions.

19) You start drinking more.

20) The restaurant doesn’t provide aprons or dupe pads.

21) You have to bring your own bank. (Money to make change)

22) You have to pay the owner a percentage of the merchant fee on your credit card tips.

23) The manager expects a share of your tips. (ILLEGAL!!!!!!!!!)

24) They take money out of your check for staff meals but don’t feed you.

25) There aren’t enough teaspoons so you hoard them in your apron so you’ll have enough to do dessert service.

26) The manager makes you empty your pockets, looking for aforementioned hoarded teaspoons.

27) There’s never any soap or hand sanitizer around.

28) Your work schedule can change without notice.

29) The manager is constantly calling you to work extra shifts and threatening you with dismissal if you don’t “help out.”

30) You show up for work to find the manager cut you from the floor. No one bothered to call and tell you.

31) Management tells you to work sick. (Good evening, I’m Typhoid Mary and I’ll be your waitress tonight.)

32) If you lose a credit card slip the owner takes the check amount out of your compensation until the credit card company transmits the funds into his account. You lose the tip.

33) The restaurant makes you pay for breakage.

34) Management makes you pay if a customer skips on the bill. (Common)

35) Busboys take uneaten bread out of table’s breadbasket and use it for a new table.

36) You’re working a double and the manager laughs when you ask to take a break.

37) You’re asked seven times a day if you’re gay or lesbian.

38) The owner tells you that you’re part of a restaurant “family” and going “above and beyond” to “exceed customer expectations” is expected. After a couple of shifts you begin to realize The Manson Family had more on the ball than these guys.

39) The restaurant is dirty.

40) Heavy turnover of waiters, busboys, and dishwashers. The place is a meat grinder and you are the meat.

41) The salad guy doesn’t use gloves.

42) You see the Health Inspector snoozing in the back.

43) Fire exits are always blocked by extra chairs, tables, or pieces of equipment.

44) The waiters talk about the owner/chef in hushed tones usually reserved for people like Jim Jones and David Koresh. Don’t drink the Foodie Kool-Aid!

45) There’s no first aid kit.

46) The owner’s never around when you need him and always around when you don’t.

47) The restaurant has a video surveillance system. That in itself is not a bad thing. But if the owner uses the system to satisfy his voyeuristic control freakiness, it’s a bad thing.

48) On your first day all the waiters tell you how much the owner, kitchen staff, busboys, and the other servers suck.

49) Waiters surreptitiously drink themselves sober while working Sunday Brunch.

50) Waiters tender their resignations by screaming “Fuck this place!” in the middle of the dining room floor on Saturday night. Classy. Could be me real soon.

Feel free to list your own warning signs in the comments section!


50 Signs You’re Working in a Bad Restaurant — 92 Comments

  1. Some other signs you might be working in a bad restaraunt:

    The owner pays for prostitutes out of the register.

    You unlock the door to set up in the morning and the owner is asleep, face-down on the floor.

    The (male) owner gives you (female) a $30 tipout you are owed and asks in a lascivious voice “so what does this get me?”

    The owner reaches around the beer tower to refill his pint glass so many times that this move is called the *owner’s name* reach around.

    The owner drinks all the Guiness then yells at the bar manager for running out of Guiness.

    The owner has a fight with the bouncer for “cock-blocking” him (from hitting on a waitress!!!)

    The GM gets fired via text message.

    You show up to work a shift one day and can’t get in because the doors are locked, the locks are changed and there is a “For Rent” sign on the window.

  2. >The owner acts like a mad scientist and your the assiant.
    >The new “yuppie burgers” just got made after several disturbing disapearences of yuppies in the paper…
    >The owner acts like a supervillian.
    >The cook is the witch from “Hansel and Gretel”.
    >The opening to an alternative universe is near the exit and is always stepped into by mistake.

  3. The one about making a waiter pay for a dine and dash happened to a friend of mine when we worked as waiters once. After we complained enough they made a concession- and took the money from the tips pot. Bastards.

  4. Wow, my old job hit a lot of those. Particularly ones where the GM is a prick or just bad at his job. Moral was real low there. Yet somehow I stayed for years and was the senior waiter there until ’06.

    Here’s another:
    You watch the Assistant Manager buy pot in the parking lot on the curb side take out monitor.

    Just discovered and love the blog by the way. I will likely by the book.

  5. Just wanted to mention 1 decent thing a restaurant from my past did. If we cut a table off from drinking cuz they were smashed and they stiffed us o the tip, the restaurant gave us an automatic 15%. (Bennigan’s)

  6. jesus, my current job has a lot of those. especially the one about dine and dashes…the servers have to pay the entire bill. yeah people, think twice about running off – you’re not screwing the establishment and their high prices, you’re screwing over a hard working server making less than minimum wage that probably has textbooks to buy and residence to pay for at university! sorry, that was my own, personal, little, waitress rant.

    oh and the one i add to this list:
    not only are there cameras in every possible area a server could be standing, there are also MICROPHONES. yep, management actually does that.

  7. To Jo: I guess thats why Bennigan’s filed bankrupcy. And they too are guilty of this “You show up to work a shift one day and can’t get in because the doors are locked, the locks are changed and there is a “For Rent” sign on the window.”

  8. I’m working at a privately owned steakhouse, where the GM has been taking or begging for tip-outs from the servers… Asshole!

  9. I’ve seen a few of these where I’ve worked.

    The chef owner will snap at servers for almost no reason if hes in the shits. One would think that any server worth their salt would be seasoned pros at handling this situation. Unfortunately, that never seems to be the case. Every time they lose their cool and in two sentences its a full blown argument.

    Argue with a chef in his own kitchen? Gee, I wonder how that will end?

    ‘Don’t you have tables? Get the fuck out of my kitchen.’

    The most infuriating thing, however, is that the GM, who is the owners wife, also takes tables. Even on average to slow nights. You’re getting profits from the restaurant and you get tipped out? That is just wrong.

  10. Wow that was quick…

    A small privately owned place in Arizona. Don’t really want to in to details as I’m still on good terms with the chef.

    Doesn’t surprise me if any of the above sounds familiar. Anyone who has worked in a place where the husband runs one side of the house and the wife the other has probably seen it.

    Its just another attempt to squeeze a little more out of a thin profit margin. Trouble is when one or both just aren’t up to the job. Anyone who has been in the business long enough has seen it.

    Staff retention turns to shit and quality begins to suffer because of it. Customers dry up and then the business closes. Happens all the time.

    Good place to pick up restaurant supplies on the cheap.

  11. humm like 40 out of 50 0f thesse occor regularly where I work now. I wonder exactly how bad that really is?

    Another sign you work in a bad resutrant the waitresses and hostess are always willing to go to the walk-in to refill dressing so the GM won’t know he made them cry.

  12. humm like 40 out of 50 0f these occur regularly where I work now. I wonder exactly how bad that really is?

    Another sign you work in a bad restaurant the waitresses and hostess are always willing to go to the walk-in to refill dressing so the GM won’t know he made them cry.

    *Re posted due to spelling errors*

  13. To Sara–one of my fellow servers used to work at Bennigan’s, and found out he didn’t have a job by arriving at work one day only to find a sign that said, “Bennigan’s closed.”

  14. The owner’s wife hosts and is a sourpuss and rude to customers. The owner blames the servers for declining business when it is actually his own wife and other old hostesses who are driving customers away.

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  16. To Be fair to Bennigan’s, The managers couldn’t get in either. That also means they couldn’t access staff phone numbers to make calls. Still sucks, though.

    I’ve lived through almost all of these though, and have some to add:

    -3 of 4 members of management are banging 3 different servers. God help you if you aren’t friendly with those servers!

    -the owners are in a battle with the landlords. Owner won’t pay rent unless xyz is fixed in the building, landlord won’t fix xyz until the rent is paid.

    -the hole in the office ceiling routinely has rats fall through it onto waiting personnel.

    -all members of management get fired because some kitchen guys stole some beer, but you keep the kitchen guys and hire a 20-year old to be the GM. (yes. Actually happened.)

    -it’s a family restaurant that has some video games – including a Playboy pinball machine that flashes nude photographs at the player.

    -It’s slow enough routinely that the servers can watch Nip/Tuck or LOST and give sufficient service to their customers during commercial breaks.

    -a fight breaks out at the holiday party, including the summary smashing of a beer bottle over a guy’s head.

    -massive server drama due to the HUGE waitstaff. More so than normal.

    -you can work 12 out of 14 shifts in a week and STILL not pay your basic bills.

    -the rental internet terminal at the front of the restaurant is routinely routed to goatse.cx by staff and left there to gross out customers.

    -a busboy smashes out the brains of a mouse WITH A DRINK CUP on the floor in the middle of a restaurant with customers watching, then proceeds to dump mouse in trash and cup back on the counter for a server to grab!

    ALL of the above was the same restaurant, by the way!

  17. When a dead mouse has it’s leg sticking out of the ceiling tiles.

    When the servers are all hired for their looks instead of their brains (too many dumb waitresses)!! And most of them are barely legal.

    When the GM is banging multiple servers…and he’s married!

    When you go in to open the kitchemn and you find used condoms on the food counters.

  18. I was working at a restaurant that couldn’t afford dishwasher detergent. The problem for management, besides un-sanitized dishes, was that the machine would sound an alarm when it sensed there was nothing left in the detergent storage bucket. Well this beeping machine seemed to upset them more than the prospect of getting all their customers sick from eating off of dirty dishes. So, they would just fill up the buckets with water to trick the sensor into believing there was soap in it.

  19. when the owner/head chef stands in the kitchen YELLING his lungs outi in disagreement at the health inspector during a surpise visit. for a good 10 minutes. with customers barely 10 feet away.

  20. When the restaurant has a “no calling out for any reason or you’re fired” policy. I’m serious. The diner where I used to work would not let you call out for ANY reason, including, say, broken limbs, or getting hit by a car on the way to work. That place made me fantasize about jumping out into the street in front of a semi.

  21. I have a couple

    – the whole kitchen/bar sewer system backs up in the middle of the dinner rush so servers & cooks have to walk threw slugde the whole night. (and one of the drains backing up was in the middle of the 2 dining rooms so we had to make a barrier)

    – the wife of a manager who is sleeping with multiple servers goes to the restaurant and keys all the employees cars

    – owner pays the cooks more than the managers

    – manager forgets to order my liquor and blames the bar for running out

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  23. How about working sunday brunch while wading through human shit that has overflowed from the sewers into the kitchen, sloshed up onto the glass racks, splashed onto the salad prep area and sticking all over the poor waiters shoes who are being forced to wade through it. The idiot manager burned cinnamon sticks to keep the smell from wafting out into the dining room

  24. Simolin

    Being asked to go through the trash looking for silverware, rammickans, etc…Because management is too cheap to purchase metal magnet garbage can rim. The best is paying bartenders and hostesses $2.13 an hour plus a tip share from the servers. …And of couse the “manager tip out” policy, where one of the managers is being paid to sit at home and watch Sportscenter.
    __________Welcome to the south.

    • Most silverware in restaurants is stainless steel, which, while ferrous, isn’t magnetic enough to get sucked all the way over to a magnet on the side of the can. How about you quit being one of the lazy ones, and pay attention when you scrape plates. Silverware and ramekins aren’t free. In fact, they are very expensive in the scheme of things.

  25. I had a manager come into work sit at the end of the and order me to fix her a drink.She polished off half a bottle of expensive flavored Vodka.Then she stumbled to her office and hid the rest of the night,until closing time where she fixed herself a couple of white russians.Classy

  26. *When the dishwasher is kicked out of the kitchen at the same time the kitchen closes.

    *When the head cook/chef/kitchen manager doesn’t have the cajones to stand up to the GM.

    *When the head chef is such an asshole, the immigrant workers who don’t speak English feel the need to reassure the new person that he’s just an asshole.

    *When the owner calls lidded drink glasses with straws “sippy cups”, forbids beverages from the kitchen, only allows 2 five minute breaks, and makes you pay half price for any drink other than coffee or water.

    *When the GM forgets there’s a big local game the night after Valentine’s, and schedules the same people at reduced staff that night, then refuses to try calling staff and see if anyone would like to pick up an extra shift. The cooks leave the kitchen and turn off the lights because they’re too tired to realize the lone dishwasher is still cleaning.

    *The first aid kit is at the hostess stand in the front, and kitchen staff aren’t allowed in the dining area during serving hours.

    *The bakery cook puts strawberry tops complete with leaves on strawberry scones as decoration.

      • I don’t know about all states but in ours we are allowed closed platic containers like 20 ounce pops with caps. We can set them where ever food isn’t actually prepared. Shelves. Cooler. Make line. Ect .

  27. When the dishwasher has locked himself in the storage closet because he’s drunk, again.

    When the manager is doing lines of cocaine with the customers in the customer bathroom.

    When management tells you getting the busboys to do their job, is your job.

    When management then yells at you for telling the busboys to do their job.

    When the busboys are swearing loudly in Spanish (or English) in full view of the customers.

    When management micromanages you to death then complains that you can’t do anything by yourself.

    When employees lockers and coats are vandalized by other employees during a shift and managment says it’s not their problem and does nothing about it.

    When you are reluctantly given leave to go to a family funeral, after being told that you could be replaced while you’re gone.

    When you return from said funeral to be told you now “owe the restaurant”.

    When the wine steward and an amount of product and money suddenly disappear one day.

    When the customer bathroom has more pornographic grafitti than a truck stop bathroom.

    When the customer bathroom is technically not in the same building as the restaurant.

    When underage and barely legal employees are drunk at the company holiday party.

    When afformentioned employees are later known to have been in the managers hotel room, in the bathtub, with the manager.

    When you find out management is getting rid of long term employees because their benefits are too expensive.

    When you have an open kitchen, and the chef’s have frequent loud angry emotional breakdowns.

    When chef positions change more than four times in a year.

    When you are told you are permanently on call to come in to the restaurant.

    When a twenty minute break between a full lunch shift and a full dinner shift is considered sufficient.

    When you are told you have to serve a pregnant woman the three bottles of wine she wants to drink with her friend even though you would be responsible if anything happened.

    When the employee toilet isn’t flushed.

    When the employee toilet isn’t flushed because the waste is on the floor.

    When you point out any problem to management you are accussed of causing it.

    When a stale dinner roll is considered an employee meal.

    When you find out you’ve been charged for employee meals without actually ever getting any.

    When management considers it a chore to do the things you need them to do, that you can’t do yourself.

    When managment refuses to do the afformentioned things.

    By the way all the above items actually happened to me in the same restaurant. Which reminds me of one more.

    When you finally leave the restaurant after many years and figure out you hadn’t left sooner because you were suffering from a form of Stockholm syndrome.

    • When the cooks, so embittered about their lives as failed rock stars that they resort to punishing customers by spitting in the food, dropping it to the floor purposely, rubbing it on their crotch.

  28. Wow I experienced a lot of those!

    What about:
    You have 4 bosses who all tell you different things, and you get in trouble for listening to the “wrong one”

    One of your managers frequently offers servers his car keys to have beer out of his trunk

    Same manager always calls you pet names (in front of customers) and puts his arm around you in regular conversation

    Take away bussers but then creates a new management position that will be responsible for wine service and gets tipped

    30 minutes is deducted from hours for a break that most times we don’t receive

    Human resources constantly changes the number of hours required for health insurance

  29. I have a few.

    Manager drinking a beer at the Mgmt shift change, but then goes to talk to a customer (with alcohol on his breath.)

    Mgmt drinking so much beer and not accounting for it (more than a case of 24 a month), then yelling at the bartender for stealing beer.

    Mgmt doing any sort of illegal hard drug.

    Mgmt always unplugs the credit card router so he can access the internet on his Mac-book.

    Mgmt forgets constantly to order. Anything. Paper stock, food, alcohol.

    Servers who were fired multiple times are continuously rehired and given back their seniority, while the rest of the loyal and well behaved servers get screwed on shifts/sections.

    Mgmt hiding from customers when mgmt is needed to diffuse a situation. (Hellooo, I’m only paid $2.13 an hour. And that’s not to argue. Get your salary or hourly arse out there.)

    Mgmt changing “unwritten menu rules” daily, or even hourly. Lack of consistency.

  30. I was “hired” at a local type restaurant and thank god I backed out today! The owner never took any type of id–well, he wrote down my social security number (i hope that’s safe) and then he asked me to come in (when I called back to ask a question he switched up the times–and acted like I was crazy when I said I thought I was supposed to come at the other time!) Of course, I work the first night without clocking in/getting paid anything.

    He tells me (when I ask) to come in a few days after that at 10:45 in the morning…I arrive and ask if I should clock in/get paid–he said no we don’t pay for training…he also said that I’d probably be staying “through dinner” when I asked…which apparently meant 8 oclock at night or later! When I asked if I’d get a break, he looked at me like I was stupid and said, “What do you mean, break?” After a few more questions I told him it wasn’t going to work out…There’s no way I’m wasting my time working for free–running up the risk of being told “it’s not working out”. After all, why else wouldn’t he document me/fill out my tax forms?

    Beware of restaurants like that! They want slave labor (9-10 hour days for free? At moment’s notice?) and then they’ll probably say, “Sorry”. Makes me so angry!!

  31. Ive been working in the industry for 10 years and have never witnessed any off this shit. Where the fuck have you all worked omfg LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Can I forward a resume to you to pass to your boss? I’ve worked in ten kitchens, always leaving one thinking that this shit can’t possibly be the norm. Now, twenty six years later, I’ve become numb and accepted that if one wants to work with the worst of humanity, it’s in the food biz hands down.

  32. Had to have cooks walk you out to your car at night because of the crime rate and the possibilty of getting mugged was good.(Detroit)

    Line cooks threatens to kill you!

    One of the Managers grabs your tits at an employee party(after party)(and pictures taken of so said grab).

    Dishwasher takes your hand and sticks it on his junk then asks if you like that baby.

    Love the blog!

  33. This list made me laugh. A few of those definitely apply to the restaurant where I work.

    Also want to add:
    The manager calls his employees “stupid” to their coworkers and constantly insults their intelligence, but keeps hiring 19 year old girls and recent immigrants who don’t speak much English.

  34. some stuff I have to add to the list is
    – manager tells you “its not working out” one day before the 3 month probation (in my area)

    one thing i hate aboout my resteraunt is i work in a very rich town, resteraunt has highest profit margins yet still has the nerve to charge for meals at a so/so discount and pay just over minimum wage

  35. some more furies I have are the resteraunt charges employees for the uniform and then if you have a small stain which could even be hidden by the apron you have to by a new one and it comes out of the tips (point of view of kitchen worker)

    they tell you “we teach here, we look for people with minimal xp” then they keep a person with minimal xp washing dishes for a year but then the guy with a year xp of flipping burgers at mcdonalds gets on to cook right away

  36. It’s just you(server) and the cook all day, every day.

    The cook, manager/owner dont speak English and demand you learn Spanish.

    You have to demand to get paid and even after that get paid every 3 weeks or month.

    FML I still work thereDX

  37. I had to close alone, my first week of working. I also did have any training on the register, so when I would mess up I was yelled that EVEN THOUGH I WAS NOT TRAINED!!!

  38. 1. When the GM is so cheap, he doesn’t pay the servers for the “MANDATORY MEETINGS” he holds.

    2. When you win a contest (such as selling the most promotions) your prize is not having to do extra backhouse work at the end of the shift.

    3. When you are fired for refusing to wear pajamas on “pajama night.”

    4. When your best manager is fired for drinking on the job, but the worst manager continues to succeed, even though she is the biggest drunk in the restaurant.

    5. When the restaurant is notorious for making fake write-ups that the server “refused to sign” in order to avoid paying unemployment.

    6. When your managers are white trash and whore themselves out.

  39. I work in two resturants. Alot of the above happens… 2,12,13,20,21,28,31 and 46.

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and I love it. :] Sorry I hadn’t found it before.

  40. making wait staff bring their own bank because the owner is sick of getting ripped off is no crime! Im so sick of employees ripping me off they make more than I do He probably can’t afford a first aid kit with all the wait staff ripping him off all the time

  41. as for the servers who drink on the job….they should all be fired ,and you all should be so lucky people like restaurant owners give you all jobs at all! ungreatful these people create jobs in a world where they arn’t making much at all but they stay in business trying to create jobs for people who complain about them! Its a job isn’t it?

    • You forget one thing..ILLEGAL conditions…holiday pays NOT paid out, being told to come in for a shift, sitting there for an hour or more waiting to start, and being sent back home. Working for a salary that works out to well below minimum wage. IF these sort of conditions become the norm, you will see crime rates rise, tax dollars climb, addictions centers exceed their numbers, and on and on. I’ll tell you what…you come clean my house once a week..I’ll give you 5.00. Fuck your travel time and your gas money. And if you eat anything out of my fridge, you work for free that day. Wake up you peon.

  42. 1. You have to buy soap to wash your hands because the owner wont buy any.
    2. The basement overflows with water because the pipes leak and the owner is too cheap to replace them.
    3. Owner expects dishwasher to sweep, mop, and finish up dishes within 1/2 hour.
    4. Your manager expects you to be out right on the nose at closing time so you have to do a half ass job.
    5. Plumbing over flows.
    6. Mice turds on dishes in back kitchen.
    7. Lazy ass coworkers who dont do there job then you have to cover for them.
    8. spaghetti sauce stains on the wall.
    9. The owner is too cheap to replace the dishwashing machine so the dishes come out crappy and YOU get blamed for it.
    I think every restaurant should have a custodian or two to clean up after hours, not the dishwasher and expect the dishwasher to clean every thing up within a 1/2 hour.

  43. A few more to add from my persoanl experience:
    1. The GM tells u ur a diner waitress and calls you a fucking idiot literally 3 feet away from a table.
    2. The GM drinks Johnny Walker blue label and fucks prostitues every night, then wonders why is wife sits at the bar reading the Bible every Friday and Saturday for 3 months…DUH! She found out!
    3. Staff meetings are a random occurrance…who cares if waiters dont know about menu changes?
    4. Waiters have to fight with the dessert chef to get special arrangements that the customer asked for (ie. anniversaries/ bdays).
    5. The GM tortures the you, yelling at you for anything that goes wrong within a 20 foot radius of you, even when he knows for sure that it is not ur fault/ wasnt u.
    6. The GM says constantly that the restaurant is broke and can barely make payroll, yet they are opening up another restaurant.
    6. You can barely make your tuition payments, yet the manager can pay full tuition for three kids at 3 ivy league schools….glad to know that ur hardearned money is paying for at least someone’s education, even if not ur own.
    7. The manager doesnt have any idea how the food on the menu is prepared or what it is served with…just says “oh yes, its very good, thats what I am having for dinner tonite.”
    8.The managers are not only in the tip pool, but at the end of the night, they sit down for a full dinner from the menu, have a bottle of wine, while the lowly waitstaff is doing sidework (polishing glasses and silverware).
    9. When it rains, plants have to be re-arranged right in the middle of the dining room floor.
    10. The cat earns his keep by leaving dead mice at the entrance door.
    11. When even ur customers recognize that the GM is a douchbag.

  44. I work at a very well known and very successful restaraunt on the Jersey shore in the summertime. I have waited on people such as John ( from John and Kate plus 8), Paula Deen, and Pierce Brosnan. I must say this is by far the most disfunctional, dirty, and disorganized place I have ever worked at.This place covers 42 of the 50 listed. It is unreal how people can be sucked into payiing high prices for terrible food and half ass service, all for the location and atmosphere. Yet, they keep coming back and people keep working there because the money is very good.

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  46. 1-GM walks over to me drunk one evening when my shift is up in front of the bar and in the middle of the restaurant and tells me he likes and does cocaine.
    2-Waiters tell me how much most of the other waiters “won’t make it” and how much they suck.
    3-Bartender and GM will make ANY member of the staff multiple cocktails or bottles of booze, all night long, even the underage ones.
    4-People get hired based only on looks, how much shit they can put up with, and if they’re into above and beyond for “the family”.
    5-You get hit on all of the time.
    6-At least half the staff is dating the other half of the staff.
    7-Affairs, one night stands, and sexual harassment are the daily norms.
    8-You commute to work for an hour and a half only to be told not to work that night and to maybe call tomorrow.
    9-On your first day everyone tells you the GM is a cheapskate, asshole, bi-polar, sleeping with 2 of the staff-members mothers, micro-managing, but he can be “a nice guy”—yea right.
    10-You’re in recovery for alcoholism & drinks are constantly forced & offered to you even though you’ve told them repeatedly that you don’t drink & they go so far as to get you a soda & put whiskey in it & you just learn to smell your drinks before you drink them.

    All one restaurant and it’s a f***ing corporate franchise!

    Work in an office or something even a warehouse—avoid restaurants! Any other low-level manual labor is better than this. It gets old—quick.

    • You nailed it. I went after a corporate store after I’d quit there..on behalf of the staff who still depend on the hole. I went to my local member of parliament..the whole system sucks. Unless a staff member comes forward (a process wherein they have to reveal their identity, and must still be working there) then nothing is done. Of course nobody speaks out..they will get blacklisted in the business. I went ahead and wrote a ton of letters to the editor about the place..many of them were published..I couldn’t name the hole (Crabby Joes/Obsidian Group Canada) but I worded the article carefully so that people knew immediately (Crabby servers…what’s Joe up to now? that sort of thing. This industry breaks my heart. How people can think it’s okay to abuse others for their own gain is something we just shouldn’t see in a “free” country.

  47. Pingback: 30 Signs That You’re Working in a Bad Restaurant | The Culinary Underbelly

  48. I worked at a bar where the owner had a policy not to let him in the door after 6pm. Yes, he had barred himself from his own bar because of his notorious alcoholic rages.

    This same bar had no paychecks, no W-2s, no 10-99s, and they never asked to see my license or social security card. I was paid $25 a shift out of the register and could drink all I wanted (it was the highest base pay I ever got at a bar/ restaurant).

  49. I work at a popular chain restaurant where busy servers will take dishes out of dirty bus tubs, rinse them off, and use them.

    Managers steal servers’ tips.

    Abuse is common.

    There are times when I look at where I work and rue the series of poor decisions that led to what I call a night at work.

  50. God Bless You All!!!!! I can say I have experienced a few things on the list and I’m practically begging and screaming to leave the restaurant industry. This blog has given me the courage to leave my current place of employment despite good benefits. If I stay an keep taking the abuse, I’ll become an alcoholic.

    • I totally agree with you. I’m in year 26 of this god forsaken service industry. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how much you know, how much you care, etc etc…the lazy little puke that’s related to the boss will always have the good spots and pay. The server that steals drinks and pockets money from the till will still be the boss’s favorite. You will almost always work for one reason..to line the boss’s pockets. I’m heading to my new year’s eve shift shortly. The kitchen manager will have returned from his paid vacation, and be yelling and carrying on like a two year old tonight. The servers will be barking about their meal times, while raking in an easy 300.00 each. A chain reaction will occur and I will go home and try not to drown myself in alcohol.

  51. We have to stand up and protest.I have worked in kitchens all my I have seen good people turned into a pile of wasted human life.People do not tip and if a person has no money to go out to eat they will do any trick to get that meal for free. I feel we don’t need restaurants because of low wages, and abuse right along with working conditions in the restaurant it is stressful,and non stop work.So think twice when you go out to eat at any restaurant that includes shitty process food from fast food restaurants.You should also budget your time in the day to cook your own food.

  52. yep,
    i’ve experienced pretty much all of these in various places i’ve worked.

    One to add- I got a third degree burn on the inside of my thumb by lifting a plate off the hotplate-the skin was melted right off-did they call me a taxi to A&E?? NO- i was told to sit with it in a bowl of water and come back to the floor in 15mins.
    Safe to say i walked out, shaken and in tears and never went back…I swore I’d never work in hospitality again, and yet a year later I end up back at it again-life’s a bitch

  53. Black mold is found on all of the cutting boards during a health inspection and you return a day after to discover that they have not been replaced.

  54. experienced all this and more, worked at a nightclub and the owner kept taking money out of the register all night to buy coke, then screamed at me at the end of the shift that the drawer was short

  55. You just got 2 tables and its not even an hour away from close, and the chefs are no where to be found. You walk out back and they’re all getting stoned.

    Your table ordered pasta and a salad and its been 30 minutes and no salad . You ask the chef about it and he yells at you for breaking his concentration.

    Head chef calls his ex- wife a n***** lover.

    The bartender is frequently not behind the bar, so you resort to making the drinks yourself but then get yelled at by the GM because you’re not allowed behind the bar.

    The bartender forces you to stay until she is “ready” to give you your tips. I.e. wait until midnight for her to clean the bar.

    Manager yells at you for standing around, and is always standing around texting/ on a long cigarette break.

    A table has an allergy to any oil besides olive oil. You ask the chef if he can fix her just a bowl of pasta with olive oil. He proceeds to tell and start banging things with his fists in the open kitchen, so loud the customers can hear. This has happened multiple times.

  56. Server obtains write up for dine and dash while owner is too busy drinking on shift to realize either they should hire supervisors or support their servers on shift.

  57. The GM cheated on his wife with the bartender. Now his bad life is taken out on the staff.

    The GM tells you that they don’t have a problem with you but then tells someone else they haven’t liked you for months now.

    The GM was prosecuted of tax fraud at his prior manager position and his brother was convicted.

    You can google you GM and find more than one mug shot.

    The GM gives out free drinks that the owner has to pay for.

    Your GM has never waited on a table, EVER!!

    Your GM can’t answer general knowledge questions about the food.

    Your GM yells at a table and tells them to leave.

    There is so much more but I don’t have the time right now.

  58. The owner doesnt trust the kitchen manager in food ordering, drains are clogged up in the dish room for a few months, staff doesnt know the menu completly.

  59. I really need to get even with my GM at the restaurant I just started working at. First He said I will be trainig about 3-4 days I was like ok then This mother**** madee work 3 days said its train then after 3 days he said they dont pay for training and told me he is sorry … Its not about the money anymore I dont really need this job to servive i just want to get these fkers back witout going to jail. HELP

  60. They give u a choice of Thanksgiving or Christmas to work with other one off & then try yo make u work both not caring u have a family

  61. The owner talks to staff ABOUT OTHER STAFF, the owner goes up to the weekly schedule, to keep the oppressive spirit in the kitchen alive and well, and announces “Dee had a shit attitude last week. I’ll show her” and slashes an employee’s hours to nearly nothing. You make an off-handed comment about the job to one of the servers, and the next day your boss hauls you into the office (or does it out in the open) and tears a strip off of you (the house mouse plague)

  62. you’ve been told to use only one ticket per table so separate checks isn’t a literal thing because all is done at the register. when the owners son makes a mistake separating a ticket , you’re yelled at for not giving separate checks.

    You’re accused of being drunk when calling in sick with the stomach flu

    Racist comments are told to you because you’re the only white waitress in the restaurant and expected to laugh at them

    Your spoken to in Spanish and are expected to understand it and are lectured because you don’t, all because the owners english sucks

    Owner is doing coke with other waitresses and giving them ‘bonuses’ and wonders why his wife is such a b**** to them

    Waitresses ask you to cover their shifts because their cousins wedding came up and they didn’t want to ask for the day because the boss is a dick, only to find out their cousins wedding was last week.

    Bust boys slit their thumbs open on dirty silver wear, only to duct tape the wound and continue hand washing dishes

    You’re expected to work late after your shift unpaid

    Cockroaches are found crawling over food bar and floor by customers feet and waitresses are ordered to grab/sweep them up wothout being noticed

    Air conditioning/heater are not run all year long because boss doesn’t want to pay for it even in 110 degree weather and customers are walking out because of it

    Leaking roof isn’t properly fixed and half of the restaurant has about an inch and a half – inch of water on the floor

  63. Pingback: The Top 10 Worst Restaurants to Work In

  64. im working in a hotel and the dishwasher is using dirty water to wash dishes and the sink has been blocked for over 3 weeks and the owner has doe nothing bout it am walking out because I have also seen 5 fully grown cockroaches inside the kitchen and I personally feel that the hygiene in the kitchen is completely inappropriate and disgusting and they need to sort it as I wouldn’t eat there my self and I am coming close to phone the food and hygiene agency my self so they have to sort it out.

  65. The credit card machine is configured to allow no more than 99% of the initial total for a tip. Because the boss spends most days at the ‘club’, and those girls perform ‘extra services’ for tips of $50 or more on a $7 beer. And he keeps hiring them to work in our family oriented facility. Where we get to train them, and they steal from the drawer during training shifts, so the trainer gets to pay it back from THEIR pocket. AND once they realize he expects them to WORK, not get a cake ‘job’, they quit – no notice. Half of them are doing side work in the parking lot after their shift.

    – Theft from customers (padding tabs, pouring well, charging for goose) is not a big deal, especially if a portion of the proceeds make it into the drawer.

    – Arbitrary rules. If you are a twinkie, they don’t apply. If he needs a spot for a new twinkie, fired on a technicality.

    – Telling me to fire someone, reason being insufficient sales on slow days. Saying in the next breath the only time their sales were up to par was when they had to cover a good shift. SERIOUSLY?!?

  66. When you are constantly sexually harassed by male customers and employees…and you’re a lesbian! Don’t even say you are though, then they are ten times worse. Disgusting people.

  67. When a manager tells you that “it’s not the manager’s responsibility to make sure the servers get a meal break” (this happened while working a 10-12 hour shift) & that if I get really hungry “to just go hide in the bathroom to eat a snack.”

    When the owner offers you to try some Molly during your shift & you say no, but yet, they keep insisting.

    When the owner blames the staff aggressively for the current fruit fly and/or vermin problem.

    When an owner sends you an email like this:
    “Every single one of you needs to plan to be at the restaurant/bar at 10am this SATURDAY. I do not care if you closed the night before. That is no excuse to come in late for a deep clean.”

    Now, mind you, I close the bar every FRIDAY night at 4am. Come in at 10am the next day? COME ON! Also, this “deep clean” is an unpaid commitment. Everything about it is illegal!

    When the owner knows that one of her main employees (her “wing-man” outside of the restaurant) is constantly on the move to sleep with all of the new female hires & she encourages it. But if a female employee shows dating interest in a patron, there is a great chance the female employee will be fired. (the owner is a woman too)

    When an owner constantly scares away regular paying customers from the bar because she doesn’t like them but, will bring in her clique of celebrity guests that drink for free, very RARELY tip, & they hang for an extra hour or 2 after the business has closed for the day. Guess who cleans the mess up?

    When the kitchen staff only offers either cheese burger & fries or pasta as a family meal & you only have 5 minutes to shovel it down your throat while standing.

    When the kitchen staff just blatantly stares at you as you eat your disappointing family meal for those 5 minutes that you’re allowed during your 10-12 hour shift.

    When one of the kitchen staff members ask you almost everyday “Ay mamí! Where is my kiss?”

    When you inform the owner that a kitchen staff member has frequently saying lewd things to you that make you feel uncomfortable.( ie: checking out my ass, making it a spectacle to the other staff members, & then laughing about it to his comrades just as you leave the kitchen). The owner’s response: “that’s not sexual harassment” & “you really have to learn how to have thick skin to work here”.

    I could go on & on & on……

  68. New owners who have never owned or been in a bar are watching too much bar rescue, and acting like Hitler in the bar, and hire a manager who has no experience and just put her two weeks notice In at walmart to run the bar

  69. -When you don’t have a manager for 6 months and the owner just comes in to eat/drink/pick up female guest
    -The bartender orders over $1000 in alcohol for emergency’s and no one finds out until its way too late
    -When the owner comes in to eat, he gives the server a tip out of the safe.
    -The owner pays for his car off the books.
    -The owner donates $2000 a year to his bicycle club.
    -The owner has NEVER worked in a restaurant.
    -The owner fucks up seating at brunch, so the college girls have a place to sit. Takes shots to them(we are white linen/fine dining), spills on one of the girls, runs off and tells the host to comp her meal. She continues to bitch so she gets a $100 gift cert.
    -The owner is 47, never married and no prospects.
    -The owner shorts staff on pay checks so nothing will bounce.
    -The electricity gets cut off once a year, due to none pay.
    -The owner is afraid of me, because I tell him the truth about some of these issues.
    -When ‘pretty’ girls come in, he runs back to the office so he can watch them on cam while they dine.
    Basically the guy is a perverted piece of crap. The restaurant is his personal pick up place. he has hired women to work as hostess or server. They can never work the hours they are needed and never clock in. We see them once maybe twice and then they just stop showing up.. I stay because I love what I do. I am a pastry chef. I can hone my skills so I can move on. Every one has an agenda. Some are just not as perverted…lol

  70. It is sad how most wait staff hate their managers. I am sorry you all had such bad experiences with your managers. I am a manager. I am lucky enough to be a manager at a privately owned restaurant, not at a chain. I couldn’t say every wait staff in my team likes me. I’m a fair and equal manager and not everybody likes it. But I read all of the comments and I think I only did one “no-no” among all these; I made a newly trained employee work on a weekend once because one server was on vacation, another one had flu. Many restaurant businesses lost business lately, but my sales are higher then ever.I make myself clear when I bring a rule, I make sure everybody follows it. But I look after my servers, I care about them. When I notice they are burnt out, I demand paid vacation from my boss for them. I got raise for my servers twice in three years when I haven’t request one for myself. They know I am the woman of her words, both ways. If you follow the rules I’ll make this place heaven for you, if you are subordinate, as I always say “don’t let me fire you, bring me your resignation notice.” I throw them parties, I surprise them with foods and drinks and small gifts, I work on holidays so they can spend time with their families. All I am asking for are, no gossiping, no drama, treat your co-workers right, give the best customer service possible to our guest. Not too much to ask I think. But they still call me “Psycho”. They gave me that name when our computer system crashed down 2 years ago. The boss was out of country for vacation. They thought (because of the volume of our sales) I was going to close. They thought there was no way we could pull this off. We did! I slept on booths many nights during that two weeks of “we are still fixing your motherboard” period but we did it! I surprise them with a picnic party, out of my pocket. I am psycho because I do my job right! Instead of whining about bad managers and owners, how about “YOU BECOME TO CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE”! I am a single mother with three kids. Struggling financially and time-wise. But I am still looking for a restaurant to start my own. I will have the same management attitude when I become an owner. Restaurant industry needs better managers, better owners; managers and owners who will understand the needs of restaurant staff, because it is not an easy job. So stop whining, get up and become one!

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