When your family has been in the restaurant business almost your entire life, you learn the ins and outs of what it takes to run a successful place. From being a little girl who couldn't read or write and pretending to take customers' orders to eventually becoming an actual server, I can't imagine my life without having the food industry play a major part.
The following are 11 major clichés that I've experienced over the course of my life in the restaurant business. If your family is like mine, you know what I'm talkin' about:
1. When people find out you own one of their favorite restaurants and freak out.
“OMG your parents own *insert restaurant name here*?! That is so cool! Do you, like, get free food?" This 30 seconds of fame every time someone finds out might get old, but you secretly love the attention. Plus, it's nice to hear that people like your place and food.
2. Never doing anything cool because your parents always have to work.
When your family owns and manages a restaurant, they have to be there all the time to make sure things run smoothly. Friday and Saturday nights were prime work time while other families were off spending time together. Getting a dog was out of the question since no one would ever be at home to take care of it. And family vacations? Maybe if you got lucky you could swing it.
In the restaurant business, there are no days off. Your parents would always have to drag you with them to work, which leads us to #3.
3. Spending your childhood at the restaurant.
When both of your parents are in the restaurant business, it's not like you can be left home alone as a kid. I was raised by a loving family with the aid and comfort of pizza and greasy fries. The way to the heart is truly through the stomach. Fair warning: this type of lifestyle can be dangerous when your parents are busy. One time I chopped my hair off in the bathroom.
4. Customers telling you how much you have grown up.
"I remember when you used to color in that booth over there, my how you have grown!" People you swear you have never met remember you from when you were a little girl running around being a social butterfly. I have become an expert at pretending I know who people are.
5. Best of all: free food.
This one is self-explanatory. Unlimited chicken fingers are every kid's (and college student's) dream. Yes, I may have been banished to hanging out in an office in the back of the restaurant, but at least I got amazing food all the time.
6. Your parents are your bosses.
Working with family can be both equally good and bad. You may get weird looks when people see you arguing with the manager when they don't know it's your parent. But hey, at least you can't get fired.
7. When the other employees are like family.
Not only are the owners your actual family, but you become pretty tight with the servers, hosts, and cooks. There is this powerful connection you get when you spend so much time with your coworkers bonding over rude customers and gushing about other matters. This makes going to the restaurant more fun and bearable.
8. Recognizing the regulars by how much they come and seeing them in other public places.
Never knowing if it is appropriate to address them by name or the fact that you already have their order memorized. Plus, there are always those regulars who come on a particular day. It becomes impossible to go anywhere in public without seeing someone you know from work.
9. Being known as the plug for food with your friends.
You were always in charge of bringing the food at get-togethers with the squad whether it be entrées, sides, or dessert. Friends don't let friends go hungry.
10. Analyzing everything about other restaurants.
When it is time to go out to eat at other places, you can't help but notice what other places are doing right and wrong, both food and service-wise. The do's and don't's of the restaurant business quickly become engrained in your mind.
11. Missing the place like crazy when it's time to go back to school.
Definitely one of the hardest goodbyes. It's hard to study for exams when you can't stop thinking about fries and pizza. Distance makes the heart grow hungrier.
The restaurant business teaches you a lot of skills that can be used in everyday life. It's not an easy industry to work in, but it teaches you patience and is very rewarding. My childhood has not been considered "normal" like other kids, but I would never trade the experiences I have for anything else.