Yep, the Kitchen Is SO Watching Your Awkward Date

They're totally talking about you on the line Ms. Loud Talker and Mr. Phone Checker.

February 21, 2017 ● 3 min read

Working in restaurants gives you a very special front row seat to the bleak world of romance.

Restaurants are the de facto stage for love-seekers — it's a public place, so there are witnesses if your date is a psychopath, and it also reveals the best or the worst of a person. Handy! What most people forget is that we live and work on that stage every day, so we may as well be on the date with you.

Sometimes this is nice: you see first dates hit it off, a marriage proposal or two, the elderly being sweet with one another. But generally speaking, restaurant work gives an inside look into the shitty state of affairs that is modern dating. If you’ve ever sat at a kitchen counter on the worst date of your life and comforted yourself with the thought that the cook in front of you probably didn't hear every word (and quietly judge your order) — yeah, you would be wrong. For what it's worth, we can't believe they're eating with their mouth open, either. 

From safe behind the line, here's a sampling of the most common dates we (definitely) watch:     

The Loud Talker

Kitchens are loud places — the roar of the hood vent alone is enough to give a person hearing damage. So it's always a thrill when a guest speaks so loudly you can hear every single word as they awkwardly attempt to woo another human. Every cook has seen this guy; he sits too close to his date and shouts at her about his favorite things: his job, his bros, sports, his bad political opinions, his ex-girlfriends. His poor date never gets a word in, which is unfortunate because if given the chance she probably would've mentioned her dairy allergy before he ordered the cheese plate. After his fourth glass of wine, as he excitedly talks about his "totally life-changing" trip to Burning Man, he knocks his wine glass into his date's lap.    

The Serial Dater

There are regular guests and then there are serial daters. Mostly they're the same; they usually order the same stuff, they’re liked by the staff, and they’re low-maintenance. The main difference is that the serial dater wants to keep it quiet that they bring a different date in a few times a week. There’s nothing wrong with this, but you secretly begin to hope that each new candidate is The One. They never are. Eventually, a bold grill cook asks the serial dater out and gets rejected. This does not deter them from coming in two nights later with another date.  

The Phone Checker

The date seems like it's going well enough, with lots of polite chatter and nervous ordering. But as soon as one of them gets up to go the bathroom the other is on their phone, furiously texting their friends, or worse, live tweeting the whole ordeal. What are they saying? Is it going well? Do they want to run for the door? When their date returns, it's business as normal…only now their phone is lighting up with notifications from the whatever text or status update they just sent. Occasionally this takes a darker, more hilarious turn when this person furiously swipes away on Tinder when their date leaves the table.  

The Couple Who Have Been Together Forever and Never Talk Anymore

“Did you say something?”


“Oh. I thought you said something.”

“I didn't say anything.”



“Are you done with the paper yet.”


“You’ve been reading it the whole time we’ve been here.”

“It’s my paper, Ron. If you wanted to read something you should've picked up a copy of Maxim or something.”

“I never loved you, Stella.”    

Guy With A Much Younger Woman That WHOOPS, The Server Assumes is His Daughter

Family dynamics are complicated — you never know who at the table is related, who is a family friend, or whether it's simply a random gathering of like-minded freaks and weirdos. So when a decidedly older looking gentleman comes in with a much, much, MUCH younger looking woman, a less experienced server might assume they're father and daughter, out for a nice lunch, catching up on life, family, school, whatever. The cook behind the line, however, stuck third-wheeling it with these guests, tries to signal the server, but won't get a chance before they strike up a friendly conversation tableside by saying, “I think it's great that you and your dad make time to hang out together, I don't get as much time with my Dad as I like.”

The cook instead decides that now may be a good time to detail his reach-in refrigerator.    

Richie Nakano | Illustration via iStock