Restaurant Work: Learning from the Hard Knox

School of Hard Knocks

Working in a restaurant will present you with numerous challenges as a performer. By writing down what happened at your event, you can improve yourself as an entertainer. Though this is true at any event, my experience has shown restaurants to be the most enlightening.

Recently I had a restaurant gig where I had a very diverse series of situations that I had to deal with professionally. In this article, I will be reviewing a few of those events. I will mention the positives, negatives, and what I learned most as an entertainer. This is meant to be a model for one possible way to approach your events with the attitude of continual improvement.

What a Comedian!

This was a table where I started to say something wrong about a particular breed of dog that I didn’t like. Unfortunately, that happened to be the same type of dog that the lady had. So, as you can imagine, there was a look of shocked terror on her face when I dared to mention that I didn’t care for her little snookums.

Now, I knew as an entertainer that I had two choices. I could either stop and apologize or pretend like I didn’t see her look of shock, continue with my rant, and then make my continued rant more and more unbelievable until the entire table realized that I was only joking about joking around.

I chose the second option, and they loved it! After this particular table, I felt I was the funniest person I’ve been my entire life.

Good: I stretched my limits as an entertainer, and it paid off by giving me the confidence to try it in the future.

Bad: I can’t yet duplicate this at every table, and I know that. I’m still learning.

Hurry, Dial 911. The Drunk is Dying!

This is what I heard as one of the drunks (trying to sneak out of the restaurant without paying) fainted right outside the restaurant door and hit her head on the sidewalk. She was knocked out at first but soon woke up. She wasn’t dying, but she did hit her head pretty hard, start bleeding and needed to be taken by an ambulance. The whole ordeal took an hour or more efficiently.

I again was faced with a couple of choices, mainly: Go check out what was going on or stay inside and try to occupy the patrons so that they didn’t know anything was wrong.

As an entertainer, I attempted to take the second route. Even though there were glass windows along the entire wall where people could see, I tried to ignore it and keep people occupied.

Good: I challenged myself and helped the patrons to relax and not worry about the situation. I feel no one was offended in such a way as never to show up again.

Bad: I learned that I need to address the situation with the customers at least. If I don’t say anything about it, they get more nervous. (Luckily, I noticed this and began correcting the problem immediately.)

The format I use when trying to review events is the following:

  1. List a specific occurrence at the event to review
  2. Try to figure out what cause it to happen the way it did
  3. Is there a way to avoid the situation entirely?
  4. Is there a way to create the situation?
  5. What good came from this?
  6. Any bad? How can it be fixed?
  7. How does this affect me as an artist and my choices in the future?

As entertainers, we must constantly challenge ourselves to grow. Growth can only be measured when we keep track of our actions and the universe’s response to those actions. On the road to perfection, we must overcome ourselves one obstacle at a time. My method includes self-reflection after every event.

I sincerely hope that my format or guide can help you organize your thoughts toward finding the better performer in you.

2 thoughts on “Restaurant Work: Learning from the Hard Knox”

  1. Great article, Johnathan! Wow, it looks like you had a really trying time! lol.
    This will definitely come in handy when I start working in restaurants, but it also applies to any gig, really. Thanks, and keep up the good work!

  2. I am reading this a few years later and I know that I have never been in the habit of making things up, yet I still didn’t remember one of these stories. There must have been so many things that I’ve seen that I have forgotten. Making balloons in restaurants has done so much to shape who I am today.

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