You’ve heard it one too many times “When are you going to get a real job?” as if restaurant jobs aren’t real enough. Well, enough of that noise.
The restaurant industry is a vital part of nearly every city. Restaurants influence and reflect a city’s culture and its charm. Restaurants provide an atmosphere for coming together, sharing experiences and bonding – but restaurants don’t run on their own. If you work a restaurant job, it’s not only a real job, it’s an important job to your community.
And yet, there is still a misconception that working in a restaurant is not “real” work. This idea passes through like an unwanted mosquito, sucking the blood out of the industry worker, leaving an irritated feeling that what they do is not a fulfilling career choice. It conveys itself in language that can be as delicate as a co-worker expressing what they want out of a “real” career or as straightforward as a parent or customer asking, “When will you get a real job?”
Fuck them. This is REAL work and choosing to be in the restaurant industry can be a fulfilling and satisfying career.
When we are at work in a restaurant, we don’t just show up and get paid. There is a lot going on behind the scenes. We are constantly multitasking, strategizing and working as a team to create a seamless experience for guests. We continuously educate ourselves on different recipes, wines, beers, spirits and how they complement one another. We learn to pay attention to detail, to read people, and to communicate. We do all of this in a high-stress work environment where anything and everything can change in the blink of an eye.
We stay in this industry because it fulfills our work-values in a way no other career could. If you’re front of house, you love your work/life balance, the active and social aspect of your career, and knowledge gained by working with talented and creative people. If you’re back of house, you love having a creative outlet, the opportunity to experiment, the ability to make something heartfelt and share it with others. The list goes on and changes depending on the person and position they hold, but one thing is the same: We do this because we have a passion for food, for beverage, for service.
The restaurant industry is hard, honest, real work. It’s not an easy job and it’s not for the faint-hearted. If you found a home here, if this is where you thrive, there is nothing wrong with making a career out of it and fuck those who feel otherwise. If you are working a restaurant job, but dream of another career, that’s okay too. People change careers all the time – but do us all a favor and start giving some recognition to the time you did spend here. What you learn and gain in the restaurant industry will follow you forever because this is a real job and meaningful work.