Strip club kitchens aren't generally considered dens of gastronomical pleasure, but that doesn't mean the guys working there are boobs. They're actually quite proud of their steak. And lobster. And steak and lobster.
A gentleman's kitchen presents an entirely different set of challenges and rewards than a not-naked restaurant, so to learn more about these distinctions we shadowed the crew of a strip club that is as serious about their food as their dancing ladies. Read on to see how the hell you can get both surf and turf for less than $8.
They don't have to make margins
A normal restaurant isn't going to sell a 16oz ribeye for $20 because they won't make any money. Luckily for a gentleman chef, the food losses are made up by expensive drinks ($7 sodas!) and "other purchases". This means you're not composing plates based on cost, giving you the freedom to sell a steak for the same price as a Coke.
It's always nighttime in a strip club
Strip clubs don't want you to notice the passing of time, so it always feels like night. That's why most lunch menus feature dinner fare like steaks rather than sandwiches.
Plates and silverware get thrown away all the time
Strippers aren't necessarily the most detail-oriented servers. It's not unusual for silverware to end up in a trash can and a plate to crash to the floor. A normal server might be fired for a few of these infractions, but at a strip club the costs are absorbed by the "front of house".
There's no such thing as a rush
Guys spend an average of three to four hours in a strip club as opposed to an hour in a regular restaurant. So whereas a normal kitchen hustles to crank out dishes as fast as possible, a strip club chef is not exactly in a hurry to fulfill orders. And the customers have plenty of other things on their minds. Like boobs!
The hours are way easier
A strip club chef still might clock around 55 hours a week, but that's a vacation compared to the 80-100 that are common at a less bus(t)y restaurant. This is largely because paperwork like inventory, spill tracking sheets, or who-cleaned-what forms are much less important.
Bacon is on pretty much everything
If it isn't a steak or a lobster, expect it to be topped with at least a few bits of bacon.
There's no up-selling
Servers don't feel pressure to recommend the most expensive thing on the menu in order to keep their ticket averages high. But even if it's a little more expensive, it's hard for a customer to ignore such nice racks. Of lamb!
Most of the food is for the staff
At least at the club we visited, the majority of the cooking feeds the folks working the floor.
The staff drinks heavily
This is true at many normal restaurants as well, but, in a strip club, the waitstaff is literally drinking with the clientele all day. This explains those broken plates, the long time before orders arrive, and why the servers might need an emergency order of French fries to soak up some of the gifts from their customers.
It's more like cooking for friends
It's not unusual for a chef to hang out on the floor with customers, getting to know them and their tastes. For instance, Travis knows that both the Sarge and his son will usually go for an exotic, meaty special like lamb. Eventually the chef might even create specials specifically for certain customers. When one regular guest mentioned he was craving swordfish, it was on the menu the following week.
There aren't any complaints
Usually no one's ever upset about their food. The focus tends to be elsewhere.
Chefs have the freedom to experiment
Without profit margins hanging over his head, there's no red tape stopping the chef from experimenting to his heart's content, or even designing a new menu.
There are breasts everywhere
It's not uncommon for a well-endowed dancer wearing next-to-nothing to march into the kitchen and ask for a salad.
Dan Gentile is a staff writer on Thrillist's national food and drink team. He was pleasantly surprised with both the quality of the food and entertainers at the strip club in question. Follow him to cheap lunches at @Dannosphere.