Bartenders Who Think They’re Actors or Musicians Can Be Annoying
I love bars, particularly the social settings they contribute to.
It’s part of what drew me to what ended up a career sidetrack. I left the financial media world for a while to work in bars. I started at a dive bar and ended up working with some of Los Angeles’s top craft cocktail bartenders. I lucked out.
This varied experience made something clear — dive bar bartenders and craft cocktail bartenders have the ability to make nice livings, especially if they work in busy bars in decent size cities. If they’re good at what they do, all the better times two.
With this in mind, there’s something annoying about working in the bar and restaurant industry, specifically in Los Angeles.
You know the old cliche about LA. That everyone who works in the service industry wants to be doing something else. Actors, artists, musicians — all working in hospitality to make ends meet as they navigate the challenging creative scenes they long to make their livelihood.
To a significant extent, this cliche is true.
To some extent, it’s super annoying.
I have leeway to riff on this because I know the good ones. The bartenders and servers who strive to work in entertainment, yet treat their co-workers with respect.
They realize they could make a living in the industry; they just choose not to.
They’re not better than anybody; they just have different dreams and goals.
The annoying ones take on an attitude that says I’m too good for this. That somehow wanting to make it in Hollywood makes them better than the person who chooses hospitality as their career.
For some reason, this has always bugged the hell out of me.
I know a ton of career bartenders and servers who not only make good money, but they’re amazing at what they do. Some excel at the craft of hospitality. Others crush it with their skills to make drinks or conduct service quickly and efficiently. The best of the best do all of the above and more.
They’re often offended by the moonlighting actors and singers who effectively look down on them. And they absolutely should be.
The moonlighters have a habit of treating kitchen staff even more poorly. Much of the time they act this way without even knowing it. There’s a racist element to all of this, given the fact that kitchen staff, namely in Los Angeles, tends to be non-white, except when you hit fine dining and such. (This is a separate, equally as disturbing issue.)
This dynamic has implications. It fosters an environment where large swaths of guests view a career in the service industry as less than. So they treat service staff rudely with a self-entitled, condescending air. It can make the people who opt for a career in the service industry — out of choice or necessity — feel less than. Or it forces them to develop a thick skin they should not need to have.
It can stop barbacks from taking the steps required to bartend. It can stop line cooks from attaining their dreams of becoming head chefs.
It holds people back professionally and financially.
There is a such thing as the skilled working class. They deserve our respect and admiration. Because they’re also — more often than we think — creative professionals. Just as creative and professional as the people who land roles in movies, play in successful bands, or get gigs as well-paid session musicians.
They do physical, social, and creative work.
Something very few of us can say.