Haven’s Kitchen: Why I Believe in Mandatory Service

I have always said that everyone needs to work in a restaurant at one point in their life. Working in the industry is hard. Actually, hard is an understatement. When days are good, they are the best days you’ve ever had. When they are bad, you’re in a walk-in somewhere bawling your eyes out while trying to pull yourself together so guests can’t tell you’ve been crying.

I remember when I wanted to get my first job. I marched my way to the principal’s office at my high school to get a worker’s permit signed when I was 15. I wanted to work at the mall so I could spend all my money on clothes. However, my dad refused to let me go into retail because “restaurant’s have more money.” Both him and my mom worked in the industry until their mid-twenties and actually met while my dad was her supervisor at a bar- I guess it runs in my blood. I feel like I owe so much to my dad because I have learned more about myself through working as a busser, food runner and server than I think I could have ever learned folding shirts at Tyson’s Corner.* I am a sensitive person and every day of my 10-year career has made me stronger and molded me into the person I am today.

I am no longer working in a traditional restaurant setting but I am still in the service industry as an event server. I am still at Haven’s Kitchen once or twice a week and I am so happy to be there. I believe in the mission and it’s an enjoyable place to be and a lot of that has to do with my co-workers and the people we serve. The owner, Alison Cayne, wrote an article that was published on the Huffington Post’s website yesterday that everyone needs to check out. She was able to articulate my exact thoughts on why everyone needs to work in a restaurant at one time in their life. Here’s a quick overview of the 10 things you learn as a server but you can check out the full article here!

1. MISSION

2. EMPATHY

3. CLEANLINESS

4. LATERAL THINKING

5. TEAMWORK

6. PREPARATION

7. SOCIAL SKILLS

8. MEMORY

9. BASIC TABLE MANNERS

10. GRATITUDE

*Disclaimer: I have several friends that work in retail (Bloomingdale’s, Lucky, Burberry, etc.) and I by no means want to disregard how hard it is. I don’t actually know first hand but, from their stories, I know customers can be just as difficult.

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