Valentine’s Day is the worst for, like, everyone -- but it’s the ABSOLUTE worst for servers in restaurants and bars, who have to deal with every single person in the room trying to make it “super special.” We talked to LA-based bartenders and servers who divulged some of their best (aka worst) Valentine’s Day stories from working and let’s just say -- you should be tipping them extra well for putting up with your BS this February 14.
Debatable: Is Shake Shack Really Fast Food?!?
“They had barely finished their appetizers and asked for the rest of their meal to go.”
“One incident in particular that stands out happened a few years ago. We had this couple who frequented our restaurant get into a huge fight in the middle of their dinner. I wasn’t their server, but it was apparent that they must’ve gotten into something pretty heated, because they both looked noticeably upset and just plain uncomfortable. It happened fairly early on in their meal too, because they had barely finished their appetizers and asked for the rest of their meal to go. We never saw them again.”
--Server, Eveleigh, West Hollywood
“Come to find out he dumped her that night.”
“We were talking about it with some regulars last night and one of them reminded us of an incident from the first year we were open. A girl that used to come in a lot back then had come to BLACK with her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. He had bought her flowers and all kinds of gifts and they seemed like a sweet couple, they had been together for quite a few years. Come to find out he dumped her that night. It's OK though, because that girl is now happily married to another regular and pregnant! So, as they say, things happen for a damn good reason!”
-- Owners, BLACK, Hollywood
“I had a customer ask the chef to create a special main course dish that held a ring.”
“I actually did witness a pretty epic Valentine’s Day story. I was working one night at the Piccolo in Venice years ago and I had a customer ask the chef to create a special main course dish that held a ring. I delivered the dish to the table as requested, the customer got down on one knee, but the women instantly panicked and did not say yes. She actually got very upset and nearly walked out of the restaurant. It was pretty strange for the rest of the patrons around the guy.”
-- Marco, Server, Piccolo, Venice
“His date casually went over to the bar and asked another guy to leave with her.”
“There was a couple on a date, they had dinner and all seemed to be going really well. They got up to leave and the man went to use the restroom. While he was in there his date casually went over to the bar and asked another guy to leave with her. By the time her date got out she was long gone with the other guy.”
-- General Manager, The Hudson, West Hollywood
“She turned to him and said, ‘Well if they won't serve me do you want to get out of here?!’"
“I remember there was a time when an older woman came into the bar and we refused to serve her, because she was clearly way too intoxicated. There was an extremely good-looking, young guy beside her at the bar drinking alone and she turned to him and said, "Well if they won't serve me do you want to get out of here?!" He exclaimed, "Yep!", dropped $20 on the counter and they walked out together. “
--General Manager, The Hudson, West Hollywood
“He starts snapping photos of this one table and I begin to panic.”
“I’m a bartender at Mohawk Bend and we typically get pretty busy for Valentine’s Day. Last year was no exception and at one point in the night, my bar was completely full, with couple after couple, but I couldn’t help but notice there was one man sitting alone at the very end -- his back to me, facing the dining area. While I found it a bit odd, I was too busy to really take note, other than to ask if he needed anything. He assured me he was fine and being as busy as I was I didn’t press the situation. It wasn’t until a bit later that I saw him holding a nice camera in his hand, and being that it’s LA, I thought well maybe he was a paparazzi or something? As I continued to do my thing, I noticed he was watching one table in particular very closely. All of a sudden, he starts snapping photos of this one table and I begin to panic -- what on earth does this guy think he’s doing!? I start to motion to one of my managers to see if we should try to get him out of here before he starts disrupting the place and people really take notice. In the midst of the chaos, the man at the particular table he was honing in on starts to get down on one knee. Turns out the ‘creepy guy’ at the bar was the man’s friend and in on the whole thing. He had been purposely staged at my bar that evening to capture this couple’s engagement and I almost ruined the entire thing.”
-- Kellye, Bartender, Mohawk Bend, Echo Park
“She grabs one of the decorative candles that we had lined along the bar and proceeds to drink the hot candle wax instead.”
“I was bartending one Valentine’s Day a few years ago and it was around 1am when a group of rowdy girls came in and one girl in particular was overly flamboyant and it didn’t take long for me to realize she was the, uh, most-loaded one of the bunch. She almost instantly tries to order a drink from me while slurring every other word and her friends give me the ‘Please don’t serve her face.’ I politely decline and her friends thank me for doing so, assuring me they’ll keep a close eye on her, so I begin to help someone else. Next thing I know, I hear loud gasps from behind and turn around to find her puking -- beans, rice, and all spewed across the bar top. She’s horrified, her friends are horrified, I’m most certainly horrified and she quickly disappears into the bathroom for over 30 minutes. While she’s in there, I learn from one of her friends that it’s not only Valentine’s Day, but also happens to be her birthday and she just got burned by some guy and like most tried to ease the pain with alcohol. She finally comes back cleaned up, but still clearly intoxicated and it isn’t long before she continues to hound me for drinks yet again. So I start trying to offer her alternatives, ‘How about a soda water?’ nope, “Water?”, etc. I eventually pour her an ice water in one of our plastic cups and hand it to her and now she’s furious, insisting she ‘doesn’t need water.’ As I turn around to do something behind the bar instead of grabbing the ice water she grabs one of the decorative candles that we had lined along the bar and proceeds to drink the hot candle wax instead. Her friends -- and the rest of the audience she’s formed at this point -- are all in awe and utter disbelief at what just happened. But somehow this girl was completely un-phased and from what I can recall seemed totally fine despite having just consumed hot candle wax.”
--Bartender, The Virgil, Silverlake
“The husband and his girlfriend are sitting at the bar and the wife and her boyfriend are sitting in the dining area.”
“We’ve been open almost a year and a half now and there was a couple that started to come in and they were a married couple. They seemed pretty lovey-dovey, and the husband and wife were planning on spending Valentine’s Day together until the husband announces that his business has called him away out of town. Now what he does is, he packs a bag, leaves the house, drove over to his girlfriend’s house and picked up his girlfriend for a Valentine’s Day dinner, which he then booked at Manhattan House. In the meantime, the woman calls her boyfriend up and says, ‘my husband is gone for the weekend. Do you want to go out for dinner?’ And they end up both coming to Manhattan House. The husband and his girlfriend are sitting at the bar and the wife and her boyfriend are sitting in the dining area and they meet going into the bathroom. Obviously, a fight of some sort ensues. But, while they went outside to talk, the girlfriend and the boyfriend sat down next to one another at the bar. The couple eventually left, and those two stayed at the bar and now they’re a couple. You cannot make that up.”
--Manager, Manhattan House, Manhattan Beach
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.