The Most Important Table

It’s not the best seat in the house, but it is the most important, and you have never seen it.

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I’m not proud of this, but I'll be frank with you — I watch the reality shows on Bravo. Trashy human beings and mindless drama is a fun way to disconnect sometimes and realize that coming home to a freshly laid dog egg in the kitchen from your pup really isn't a big deal. Among these shows is Vanderpump Rules, which follows the lives and useless arguments of the staff of SUR restaurant in LA. A vast majority of their plot progression takes place next to the dumpster in the back of the restaurant among the tattered remains of old barstools and tables now used for cigarette breaks. 

The point of describing this is actually that this is the only show I've seen, scripted or otherwise, that portrays what the back of a restaurant really is like. It is a haven for the staff to relax, vent, eat, and in the case of Vanderpump Rules, watch the male characters cry  — like, a lot. TV drama aside, this part of a restaurant is usually never seen by the public, yet it is one of the most important things to the staff. 

The restaurant and bar industry is very hard, and it is assaulted daily with “experts” who are usually worse than the “celebs” on these reality TV shows. We get it Susan from Utah, you have a Yelp account. The fact is though, that you don’t know what the hell you are actually talking about when it comes to the consistency of velouté, or why the aquavit in your cocktail doesn’t taste like Tito’s. Once this person is done explaining to the staff that things are wrong and why she’s right, anyone would need a drag of a cigarette and a heavy pour of Fernet. This is where those chairs and table come into the picture.

The industry is changing, and some chefs are embracing things like these sanctuaries of server life. One example is Chef Craig Strong of Ocean At Main in Laguna Beach. His staff has their own, non-tattered, and to my knowledge, not dumpster adjacent back patio area. Others unfortunately are relinquished to the broke-ass bistro pictured above. However, that’s their only escape. There is a savage romance to the whole thing, but the biggest takeaway is, people are working hard, and they have to deal with people like the aforementioned “Susan” all the time. So be nice to people, because their only escape are these little, broken, beautiful islands — and you need to be aware of them, and respect them as much as those who need them.