14 Ways Dating (and Sex!) Is Different in the Restaurant Industry

bartender cheers
Thrillist

You know that Rihanna song about finding love in a hopeless place? First of all, it's a delight. Second of all, there's a good chance that RiRi consulted with a waiter, bartender, or chef before writing it, 'cause when it comes to finding love, there's almost no place more fraught with romantic pitfalls than a restaurant. To find out just how different dating in the service industry is (as opposed to in the general population), we spoke with men and women who've worked in kitchens, bars, and dining rooms across the country about their love lives. (All names have been redacted to protect subjects' privacy, and future chances of having the sex.) These are their stories.
 

Work events may get awkward

"Let's just say that there are some [industry] parties where I've definitely hooked up with four dudes in the past."

“The cocktail community [all goes to the same] conventions, like Tales of the Cocktail and PDX Cocktail Week. There’s lots of booze at these events, and your morals might not always be, uh, 'aligned.'"

tired waiter
Thrillist

Date "nights" start LATE (or not at night at all)

"If you are lucky enough to work in a restaurant that is closed once or twice a week, those are your potential date nights. But we hate planning things for our days off."

"Basically you're [dating] life exists after 1am, sleeping until 3pm, getting coffee, and doing it all over again. It's not like a 'real' daytime relationship."

So... we all had sex in the parking lot.

"Many days, [my girlfriend is] going to sleep before I [get] off of work."

"[Dates late at night] are your only option other than a lunch/brunch date, which would basically mean that you had already gone out the night before and slept together."


The hours make sex tricky... not in a sexy way

"If there are hookups happening, it'll definitely be after a late shift."

"Even when you have sex, you just want to go to sleep. There’s nothing sexy about a tired, aching body.


Flirting at odd times is totally standard

"I was hooking up with this cook at a time when I wasn't working on the floor. I had a daytime job as a chef's assistant, and the guy would NEVER make it to my house before 2:30 [am]. When I told him how the timing really didn't work for me, and maybe we could get some lunch sometime, his response was 'That will never happen.' To this day, I still get creepy G-chats from him in the middle of the night."

servers dating
Thrillist

Sex isn't strictly a bedroom activity

"I've let boys touch my boobs in the walk-in a few times. While eating Oreo cookie[s]. Like, no big deal."

“It’s kind of a game for us, like -- how many of our friends’ bar bathrooms can we have sex in? I don’t... remember [how many I've done it in].”

It's not hard to become friends and then lovers. LOL.

"I have never had sex in the building, but at one restaurant, we all had sex with each other in the parking lot."

"I have [server] friends that, to this day, swear they didn't bone in the bathroom of [the bar we were at], but I could see their feet."
 

There's not much privacy

"Many, many servers date servers at other restaurants."

"Industry people are constantly surrounded by coworkers & customers... meaning you do a lot of talking, a lot of gossiping, and even more oversharing."

"[Relationships] have a tendency to stay in limbo for a longer time, because if you work together, you have to keep it quiet... there might be former flings that still work in the building."
 

Stages are like temps, in that they sometimes bang 'em

"Anyone that is trying to hook up with a stage knows that it will just be a fling. I guess it's like banging a temp, right?"

paying the bill
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Check etiquette on dates is very specific

"Service people [on dates] split checks evenly and never ask for separate checks. Because that's what assholes do."

Bartenders always, always have cash on dates, no matter what.”

“It’s tough when you go out and you’re ready to throw down hundreds of dollars on a bill, and then at the end of the night the check is completely comped [leaving only a tip to be paid in cash]. And your date only has a card, and they’re like ‘well, shit.’”
 

Someone's always willing to kick off the lovin'

"[At] my last two restaurants, NO ONE was hooking up... and I was like, 'We really need to liven this place up.' So then I slept with a line cook."
 

It's not just servers; the whole restaurant gets down

"The back-of-house consistently hook up with, or start dating, the hostesses [...] I believe it's that way because the back-of-house guys can talk about their ambitions and dreams of owning a restaurant, their culinary vision, etc. College-aged girls eat that stuff up because they want to be around people that already have passion and a life plan."

"[As a hostess] I tried to seduce a back waiter once... [he was] Mexican. No English. We literally couldn't communicate. But he was cute."

"It’s a whole ‘buffet’ of FOH hooking up with the BOH... [and also] FOH with FOH, and BOH getting it on with their coworkers, too."

drinking waiters
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Booze hard or go home (alone)

"As long as you aren’t sloppy, getting bombed on dates is common practice."

"Industry people on dates indulge... I'd say more [than dates between non-servers]. We spend most of our days bringing people awesome food and drinks and we want to take in as much as we can when we are off."

I messed around with some of my cooks, too.

"It's hard to not start [hooking up] with someone when you work in a restaurant because you're together all the time late at night. So then after work (or during work) you start drinking, then you go out... you become friends, and then lovers. LOL."

"Sometimes alcohol influences bad decisions, and that's definitely more present in the restaurant industry dating realm than with others. [Everyone is] friends with bartenders, and gets free drinks or the bar to ourselves at night's end."

"[It's a red flag] if a date mentions more than once, 'Whoa, I don't usually drink this much.'"
 

Industry "incest" is very real

"There are a lot of Eskimo brothers and sisters. I’ll put it like that.”

"I wish I could say it wasn't, but it is so very true that industry people hook up. In my early 20s, I dated the sous chef who was my boss at the time. A few years later, when I was the sous chef, I messed around with some of my cooks, too."

“A lot of bartenders date & sleep with each other. We’re quite an incestuous group.”

"I once went to a restaurant on a date with another industry guy, said hello to the hostess who I knew through friends (but honestly, she seems like a real bitch), mentioned who would be joining me, and her response was 'Oh, I'm very familiar with John Doe.' So I can only assume they had hooked up, too."

servers dating
Thrillist

The "normals" they date are rarely normal

"We small talk every day with dumb people. If you can’t get past the small talk with a potential love interest, it will end ASAP."

After a few drinks, working at bars is like real-life Tinder.

"The people working [in restaurants, especially NYC restaurants] are usually super creative, and working to be able to support their careers (actors, artists, singers, musicians, etc.). So if they date outside of the industry, [the significant others] are usually creative themselves."


Dating sites? Nah. Tinder: eh, maybe.

"Most restaurant people don’t have time for or give a shit about long-winded, BS profiles on the more serious dating sites."

"There are plenty of [servers] that don't have time or don't care to make the effort, which leads to casual sex."

"Bars are real-life Tinder [for us]. Especially after a few drinks."

"[The female waitstaff] used to talk about how we wouldn't want to be on Tinder, and then have someone see us at work. It could get creepy because then all of a sudden they know where to find you all the time."

"I know a lot of [servers] that use those [Tinder and other apps], myself included. I often see coworkers and employees on there. I swipe left super fast!!"

Special thanks to Boilermaker for the location.

Dave Infante has never had sex in the bathroom industry. Follow @dinfontay on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.