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Stories from People Who Fell in Love While Working in Restaurants

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Servers are accustomed to finding all kinds of things in the restaurants they work in, from left behind umbrellas and cell phones to forgotten retainers and disregarded dirty diapers. The one thing no server ever expects to find at work is true love, but it does happen every once in a while. With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching and Cupid setting aim with his bow and arrow, let’s embrace the season and share some instances of romance served with a side of Ranch dressing. Lots of servers fall in love with co-workers, toiling side by side every day and gradually recognizing a spark. One person tells me, “My mom was a server and my dad a cook. They’ve been married 36 years now and we all run the family restaurant.” Adorable story, but what about when the romance is between a server and their customer? I recently asked people to tell their stories of love found in the service industry and I was not disappointed.*

From Customer To Co-Worker to Couple

“My husband was my bartender before we started dating. I actually first met him sitting on the lap of my ex when he came to take our drink order. Honestly, we had instant chemistry. Once the ex was out of the picture, I got a part-time job at that bar and spent every waking moment there and the rest is history. We’ve been together for 16 years, married for 10.”

Just the Tip

“My now fiancé came in one night to eat. He told me he saw me through the window and said to himself “I have to meet this girl,” so he came in and ate, filled me with compliments about how beautiful I was and how I had the most beautiful eyes he had ever seen. He was super sweet and polite and he left his number on my tip. I messaged him a day or two later and have been together ever since.”

Rule Breakers/Scandal Makers

“My now-husband was working as a server and bartender at the country club where I lived. They didn’t have rules about dating members, but we were the scandal of the place for a little while. Fast forward five years and we now own a restaurant together. He’s the chef and I’m the server!”

Wanna Bet?

“I met my significant other while I was bartending. He was a semi-regular that would come in, sit at the bar have lunch or dinner and a couple of beers. We finally got together with a bet over arm wrestling. If I won, I’d buy him a shot of Jameson, if he won he would get a kiss. I never thought he wouldn’t let me win… five years later we are still going strong.”

She Knows What She Wants

“I was tending bar in a cool little place down in the Keys when he walked in. I took a photo of him as he was walking in and told my co-worker, ‘That’s the man I’m going to marry.’ I coerced him back night after night with homemade happy hour food specialties & my awesomeness. We will be 10 years married in August and yes, I still have that first photo.”

Happily Ever After

“In 1990 my now-husband Mark, got me a job working at small local tavern in Milford, Massachusetts. I had a boyfriend I was engaged to who was a bastard, but Mark said to me, “I’m going to marry you.” I thought he was nuts, but I needed the job. I was working there for about a week when I came in with a black eye. My fiancé was an alcoholic and a drug addict and was just so completely vicious. I can remember looking at my now-husband Mark and telling him it wasn’t a big deal and that I shouldn’t have argued with my fiancé when he was drunk and I should have just gone into the other room and ignored him. Mark looked at me and said, “You are going to become a statistic. You are going to become a newspaper article.” He was horrified. Then he said, “Let’s go. Come with me.” For some reason I don’t fully understand, I walked out of the kitchen door of the restaurant with him, got into his Firebird and off we went together. We had to hide that night from my ex who was looking for me. Mark’s aunt was in Italy, so we ended up sneaking into her house and staying there for the night. That was 31 years ago!”


It just goes to show you that you never know what you might find at a restaurant. You could go in for some calamari and come out with the love of your life or you could go to work a double and end up with two kids. It’s not always wine and roses though. As Daniel so poignantly reminds us, “I got exes, but that’s about it.” While that is the more likely of scenarios, since it’s the season of love, let’s focus on the romance for at least today. Happy Valentine’s Day!

*The names have been changed and the stories have been edited for clarity.

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Bitchy Waiter

Bitchy Waiter

Darron Cardosa is a writer, actor, singer, and waiter. He lives and and works in New York City and enjoys "The Brady Bunch," "The Facts of Life" and cocktails almost as much as he hates your baby.