On this episode of “Going Out With Jake Cornell,” host and former NYC hospitality pro Jake Cornell speaks with writer, actor, director, and comedian Taylor Garron. They share their thoughts on celebrating birthdays, what makes Disney adults unbearable, and how to enjoy a bar or restaurant by oneself.
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Jake Cornell: Hello! It’s Jake. I’m talking to you on a Monday night, after a weekend in which I attended three birthday parties and yet, I feel well-rested and not even remotely hung over. And that is a true blessing from the going out gods. I’m feeling very lucky today, and feeling very lucky for you because we have a great episode for you to listen to. Our guest, Taylor Garron, is so smart, so talented, so funny. She made a feature film called “As of Yet,” which won the Nora Ephron Prize at the Tribeca Film Festival. She has written for The Onion, Reductress, Vulture. You may have seen her on Twitter; she is so funny. We’ve known each other online for a while but hadn’t really hung out in real life. We hung out at this one birthday party, and I was like, “Going out with Taylor is really fun, and I want to have her on the show.” I did, and it was the best. Please enjoy me going out with Taylor Garron… So as I was saying, you and I recently had a night out together for the first time at Cookies.
Taylor Garron: Yeah, beautiful. I feel like our first night out was for your birthday. It doesn’t count, technically, because you were busy; you’re seeing other people. Also, that bar was flooded with 22-year-olds. So I was dissociating a little bit.
J: The whole experience of that birthday party was really intense. I need to caveat by saying it was such a fun night. Me and my friend, Marcia, had a joint party. But I am starting to realize there is something inherently stressful about hosting a birthday party, especially hosting a big birthday party. Marcia and I did it together; we have a lot of friends together. There was double the drawing power. So the people showed up, and suddenly there’s the pressure of being like, there are 60 people here. And I feel like I have to give all of them face time to be like, “Thank you for coming to my birthday.” Suddenly it’s like, is this my f*cking wedding? This was intense and we did choose a bar purely because of its size and because it was cheap. It’s huge, which I love.
T: There are two floors, with a pool and stuff.
J: And the high ceiling, so you can’t really get claustrophobic, which I am into. However, I’ve only ever gone there for a chill, pre-dinner beer at like 5 p.m. when it’s really low key. So I was unaware that it is the fake ID happy hour after like 8 p.m. on a Friday. You could tell, purely by age, who was there for our birthday party and who was the clientele.
T: Who was 19. I was waiting at the door to get in and the guy at the door was checking my vax card and also my ID, and there was another black person sitting behind me and he was like, “Are you guys together?” Which is ignoring the obvious; that’s fine. He was like, “Are you guys together?” And I was like, “Oh, no.” And he said, “Not yet, huh?” And then he laughed.
J: The guy behind you or the bouncer?
T: The bouncer.
J: Absolutely not. Absolutely not.
T: Well, it’s going to be a night. It’s going to be an interesting night. It sure was, and I had a great time.
J: Yeah, we had a good ole time. It was definitely full-court press, but I had a good time.
T: Hosting birthdays is stressful.
J: When is your birthday?
T: It’s in May, May 21. I threw a party this year, actually, and it was because it was at that time in late May where people were like, “All right, cool. I’ve been double vaxxed.” And also it was before Delta was scary. So it was this kind of three-week period of bliss, we’re post-pandemic, we’re doing it. And I threw this party and it was in my friend’s backyard. So for people who were still feeling iffy, it was outside, so that felt OK/. And it was huge. I had such a great time and I was so hung over the next day. But yeah, it’s stressful. You feel like you gotta talk to everybody. There’s food, but did I get enough? There’s cake, but do we need that? Is it childish to have cake at a birthday party when you’re in your late 20s? I don’t know.
J: When I was younger, I used to fantasize about a surprise party, I think purely out of the idea of validation of being like, if my friends and my loved ones throw me a surprise party, that is a true form of love.
T: Yeah, they love and care about me, and they care enough to keep a secret.
J: Quite infamously, when I was in the 7th grade, I deliberately did not have a birthday party in the hopes that a surprise party would be thrown for me. And then my best friend got confused and was like, “Oh, when’s your birthday party?” And I was like, “There isn’t one,” thinking that meant she was spilling the beans, revealing that there was a birthday party. So I spent all of my birthday being so excited for my party later, and Britney was like, “I need you to understand there’s not a party.” I was like, “You’re such a good actress.” Fast forward to me at like 8:30 p.m. sitting on the couch and I was like, “Oh. All right. There’s no party.” But now I would love a surprise party, the surprise would be gorgeous, but also being like, “Oh, it’s not planned. Like, I did not plan any of this.”
T: It’s not your responsibility at all. That’s the beauty of it. When you’re younger, it’s like, “Yeah, my friends like me.” But that’s a smaller issue than, I don’t have to plan any of this. None of this is involved. I can leave when I want. And that’s beautiful. But Cookies was fun, too.
J: Cookies was another birthday party, which I had a good time at. I liked the vibe there a lot as well. The back has a little bit of a Shire from “Lord of the Rings” vibe to it. Not the backyard, that back room.
T: Yeah. What’s interesting is that makes total sense, and I don’t know how.
J: It’s Middle Earth. I walked and was like, OK, so Hobbit vibes, a little bit.
T: 100 percent, especially that one of those impossible circle booths where you scooch in. And if you have to go to the bathroom, that’s hell, because now everyone has to get out. You have to do the weird butt scooch to get out. It was very medieval times.
J: The round tables that are walled in on three sides, I feel that television shows made us think that those are a normal thing to sit at. When purely, they’re just a really easy thing to film a group at. If the center person has to pee, I’m like, “Well, piss yourself, we’ve already gone up four times.” I’m comfortable. I was obviously thinking about birthday parties when I was planning mine. But I feel like there’s this inverse correlation when we’re younger. The pressure of birthday parties, because they’re like the main social event, is so high. As you get older, that has to go down or something’s wrong with you, the people who are really intense about their birthday party. I remember when you were hosting your birthday party and you were just posting like, “Hey, chill, DM if you want the address.” It’s very low key. But I feel like people still carry the trauma of the pressure of birthday parties from when they were younger. The number of DMs I got from my friends like, “Oh my God, I’m so sorry, I missed your birthday.” And I’m like, “If you’d been there, we would have talked for two minutes. I don’t care, it’s fine. And now, I have, like, four dinners planned that are an apology, “Sorry, I missed your birthday dinner.” I’ll take these dinners.
T: That’s free food, I love that. I always do feel guilty, especially when I’ve already told someone I’m going to make it, but we’re friggin’ adults. Things happen. Sometimes I’ve eaten dinner and now I’m bloated and it’s just not going to happen.
J: It’s important to caveat, we are talking about birthday parties. You can’t bail on a birthday dinner. A reservation with six people, you need to show up.
T: Or there needs to be a very good excuse.
J: A very good excuse.
T: This is a party where it’s an open invitation, bring whoever you want. It’s not going to be weird, people are going to show up. I have a core group of friends who are going to be there, and if that’s it, that’s fine.
J: That’s like, 100 percent. I was really sad that I couldn’t go to your birthday party, so I’m glad it was good, too.
T: OK, this is not meant to be rude, I didn’t even realize that you were not there.
J: What’s funny is, I feel stupid because I remember when I couldn’t go, I sent you a long DM being like, “Oh my God, I’m so sorry.” And now that my birthday party was last week, I’m like, she didn’t f*cking care. She was busy. No one cares about their birthday party.
T: It’s never like, “Oh my god, they don’t like me.” Do you know what I mean? If they didn’t come to my birthday party, they must not care about me. Come or don’t.
J: Come or don’t. 100 percent.
T: I was really intense. I’m going to come out of the closet or somebody who loves birthdays. I do. I had this conversation with Caleb Heron on his podcast recently, where it’s like, I am a corny person fundamentally. I fully embrace that and lean into it. I think that actually makes it not as corny. When people are corny and they think that they’re not or they’re behaving in that way, no, no, I love that. I love birthday parties. I love somebody getting good news and celebrating. I love getting a gift for my friend. I know they’re going to be excited about it and watching them open it. Love all that.
J: That’s so nice.
T: When I was young, my mom really loves those parties, too, and we’re good at planning them. All the 8, 9, 10 parties were super f*cking cute and fun. All my friends came and they got little goody bags. It was very much that. I had a sweet 16, and it was ’80s themed for some reason. I was not even alive in the ’80s. That made no sense. But it was a lot of fun and the pictures from it pop up on Facebook, like “this day 10 years ago.” Once a year it pops up, I’m like, “Oh, that was nice.” I still have this one friend Aaron who wasn’t sorry that he missed that birthday, but that he regrets missing it because everybody talked about it at school, and he was left out. He was on a ski trip or something.
J: So that means your birthday was this social event of that grade.
T: It was talked about. And everyone had to dress like they were from the ’80s, which was funny to watch a bunch of millennials make this up. It was always really about birthdays. And now, as an adult, it’s like, I’ll plan a party. I’ll make sure people are coming and we’ll celebrate it, simply because I love an occasion. I feel like people are like, “OK, it’s my birthday week. To this day we’re all going to do this. And then Tuesday, we’re all going to do this and Wednesday to make sure that you bring your significant others because we’re all going to double do this.” We’re adults.
J: You were born one day. You weren’t born seven days. I’m so sorry. I love you, baby. But that’s how that shakes out for me. We can talk about birthdays forever. But I’m dying to know: What does going out mean to you?
T: I feel that’s evolved for obvious reasons over the past year and a half, two years. But even before that, when I was like in my early 20s, going out was: We are going to eat a bunch of pizza, we’re going to put on a really short skirt and heels, despite that it’s really cold, and we’re just going to pop to as many places and get as many drinks as we possibly can. And it was like, hangover who? You’re 22; it didn’t matter. As I got older and also started doing comedy, sometimes going out is just like, “Oh, my friend’s having a party at this bar, I’m going to have a couple of drinks.” Or, it’s been a while since I went out dancing. Let me grab one of my friends who’s into that and we’ll go out dancing. Now that I’m ancient, going out is a whole to-do. I have to mentally prepare for it. It’s going to be, not the highlight of my week, but the thing that I have to get ready for. I’m planning an outfit. And it has to be good because I don’t have another option. I don’t have another chance until like, next month or a while. So it’s definitely an occasion. It’s a thing that I enjoy doing. But as I’m getting older, you run out of steam a little bit.
J: Yeah, that’s definitely the trend of the conversations I’ve been having with people that are closer to my age where it’s like, we’re transitioning from quantity to quality. It’s like, I’m not going to go out five nights in the week. I’m going to go out one.
T: 100 percent.
J: But I’m gonna make sure that that one f*cking bangs.
T: I’m going all in. I’m staying out. I guess in New York, 2 or 3 a.m. is a reasonable time to get back home, especially because there are still slice places open. Sober me does favors for drunk me, where it’s like, I know I’m going to be home and I’m not going to be in the headspace to do anything responsible. I put out a glass of water next to my bed. This is actually something I’ve gotten to recently, I make a box of Annie’s mac and cheese before I go out and I put it in the fridge. So when I get home and I’m like, “Oh my God, I’m starving,” pop that in the microwave for a minute. You’re good, I do wake up feeling like sh*t. But still.
J: That is genius because something that I’m currently really struggling with, and I don’t know if you’ve encountered this, but Uber has recently added a feature that I think should be outlawed, which is when you are using Uber and you get in the Uber, the app automatically opens UberEats. And that is poison.
T: That is the most manipulative, f*ucking genius.
J: “Black Mirror” sh*t. Do you know how much money they’ve made off of me from that one move? Because guess what? I live in a delivery distance of that’s open all night. A Popeyes. So that’s becoming a huge medical issue for me.
T: No. Popeyes is one of the things I can only eat when I’m drunk. Sometimes, I’ll brown out and forget that I had it. I wake up the next morning, and then I must run to the restroom.
J: You see the little crumbs on your coffee table of all the fried chicken and you’re like, “OK, we know what happened.”
T: Or you wake up and smell and you’re like, “Oh yeah, I guess I did have Popeyes last night, huh?” But it’s also just a great way to clear your system the next morning. So I’m not even hating on it.
J: It’s a purge. I need to stop because I’m eating a day’s worth of calories when I get home after my full day of fried chicken, and then waking up and needing breakfast.
T: That’s lizard brain vibes because your brain is still kind of like, “OK, well, you just poisoned yourself. We need to purge, and we have to be awake and alert for predators tomorrow. We don’t have time for these lions and sh*t.” To me, that’s like you being really in touch with your ancestry and your instincts. And I think that’s beautiful, and I think that should be celebrated.
J: I appreciate that. I feel like our lizard brains must be so annoyed with us at all times. We’re like, “Hey, so this alcohol thing we’ve talked about again, it’s poison.”
T: And then you’re like, “All right, fine. Well, I’m not going to drink tonight, but I am going to do a lot of Molly.” Your brain’s like, “No, no, no.”
J: What if you stayed with yourself for a night? I’m getting the going-out vibe. Are you a restaurant person?
T: I love restaurants. Oh, this is gonna make me sound a certain way. But it was one of the most irritating, difficult things about the bad part of the pandemic. It’s still bad, but we’re just ignoring it. When we were all paying attention to it, that was a hard part for me because I love restaurants. I love cooking, too, and I love cooking for a group of people. But the idea that I can go out and have someone bring me food and I don’t have to do the dishes. I could make small talk with the servers.
J: God, when the pandemic was in the thick of it, it was the dishes. I did not mind cooking for myself. I remember saying this over and over again. I was like, I’m not excited to go to a restaurant to eat the food. I’m excited to go to a restaurant and not wash a f*cking dish. Because I didn’t have a dishwasher for the first half of the pandemic. I was like, I cannot wash another dish.
T: I also didn’t have a dishwasher for the first half of the pandemic. Thankfully, I lived with roommates, so it was all right, cool. I will do the cooking. And all of y’all can team up and do the dishes or vice versa. Which is fine, because I’m not doing them constantly for myself. But I moved into an apartment with a dishwasher and it is. It’s changed my life and I’m never going back. I know how that makes me sound.
J: I’m in the same boat because I got a Covid deal, so I currently have a dishwasher, washer/dryer, and backyard.
T: OK. I’m living in the building, so it’s a building backyard. But I have a new washer/dryer and dishwasher, which is just beyond my wildest dreams and only because there was no one living here. And the person who manages the building was like, please move in.
J: Exactly the same. And I feel like it has me by the neck because I look at StreetEasy when I’m bored, just to see what’s happening. Do you ever play the game of, “If I make this much money, what would an apartment look like?” And you just start to look at more rents than you can afford.
T: Yeah, love that.
J: I was doing that and was like, “What if I can afford $4,500 a month in rent?” What would that look like in New York City? And the units I was looking at did not have washers and dryers. Because it’s so bad right now. It’s the opposite. Moving right now is hell. Not that it’s ever not hell, but it’s like a particularly inner circle of hell right now. And I was like, “Oh, damn, I can’t move until the world ends.” I can’t afford anything this nice. I can’t go back to not having a dishwasher.
T: And I’m not going back. I could do without the washer/dryer. If there was one in the building or even one I lived next to, that would be fine for me. It’s not what I prefer, but it’s OK.
J: Is your dishwasher over a washer/dryer in the unit?
T: 100 percent, yeah.
J: Wait, I actually really don’t know which one I am.
T: It’s tricky. It’s tricky.
J: That’s hard. I could do in-building, I guess.
J: I’m really not trying to ever carry the bag down the street again. But then again, it wasn’t that hard. I guess the dishwasher is maybe more day-to-day. You probably use it every two days, but you’re putting sh*t in it every day.
T: You run it every couple of days, but in terms of net use and appreciation, it’s the dishwasher for me. I guess it’s just because I live in this neighborhood that has a laundromat everywhere. There are 24-hour ones and also ones that you could schlep your bag over there, drop it off, and they wash it, dry it and fold it for you. And then you just pick it back up.
J: There’s a really good one on Nostrand, and I really liked the people there, and I kind of miss them. It’s the one downside to having a dishwasher; I liked their energy. They were good people.
T: That’s hard.
J: Also, the thing about dishwashers is, have you ever encountered people who think it’s a personality trait to “actually prefer not having a dishwasher.” They leave a bad taste in my mouth.
T: People will make a personality out of anything. That’s their right. Like, I get it. Sometimes I think about what I would make my personality out of if I didn’t have one. I’ve been thinking about the really scary ones, like the Disney adult. I cannot f*ck with that. I cannot imagine.
J: That’s really, really tough. I still have trauma from one time when I was hanging out with someone for an extended period of time and I was vibing with this person. I was like, “Oh, this is fun. We’re having a good time.” And we’re at a bar or at a restaurant and when the check came, they pulled out a Disney debit card. And that was really destabilizing for me to realize.
T: I don’t even know how to describe it. You have to kind of re-establish yourself in reality. Your brain kind of dissociates at that point just to protect you. And you’re out to dinner, so what do you do?
J: You’re still stuck and you’ve already put in the time. The Disney adult is tough. I felt really bad. Do you know Jay Jordan? I laughed, but also felt bad, for him and myself. He was realizing my personality was being an X-Men fan, which is now owned by Marvel, which makes me a Disney adult. And I was like, “Oh, no.” That’s so tough.
T: I like nerdy subcultures. I don’t think Disney is a nerd subculture. I think it’s just cringy. You were stunted, and I get it. We’re millennials, we’re all stunted.
J: I don’t believe your marriage is healthy. I might be offending people. If you’re a Disney adult, I don’t believe your marriage is healthy.
T: I have these pictures that I have been keeping to myself because I’m working on myself, but they’re screenshots of when I was still visiting Facebook. This girl that I went to middle school with, who actually stole my boyfriend when I went away for a week, and I came back and he was like, “By the way, I’m with her now.” He’s happily married to his husband. They have a couple of kids. It was a whole thing. Anyway, she got engaged and her now-husband is also a Disney person. And the pictures that they took, I’m going to send them to you privately, I literally had tried to put them publicly and have turned around. Because it’s like, I don’t want to embarrass her and I also don’t want to make myself look any type of way. But it’s balloons shaped like Mickey’s head, and they’re being held in front of them at magic hour in a field. It’s their engagement photos. Describing it, I feel nauseous.
J: Have you ever looked at the price packages to get married at Disney? You cannot imagine the price tag, it’s insane.
T: Why do you want to get married at Disney? I don’t even want kids at my wedding. Why would I want to be surrounded by children? It’s just, it’s a “no” for me. I don’t know how we got here, we were talking about niche personalities. We’re talking about the most insidious one.
J: That’s a very common thing, especially in the New York scene, of people who make being into restaurants or being into bars their personalities. But they’re never people that actually have ever worked in restaurants or bars. You notice that, right? I was dragging these people on another episode of the podcast. This trend of people who I see on TikTok or Instagram being like, “Five bars you should never go to.” I don’t want to go to the five bars you go to, based purely on your energy, but also people work at those bars. You’re dragging these institutions where people work. People are trying to make some money. People like to go there, and that’s not your vibe. Can you not try to make it systemically uncool on the internet so that these people who work there and are trying to pay their f*cking rent can get by?
T: It’s people who have never had a Yelp review cost them money, or a Yelp review get them reprimanded.
J: Have you ever worked in service?
T: Oh, that’s all I did. I worked as a barista until the pandemic. And then I stopped because the café closed for a while. Once I was on unemployment, I was like, “Oh, let me just let this run for a little bit.” I waitressed my way through college and I’m still very much in debt. But I also worked in a vegan restaurant in college. Then the summer after college, I worked at a pizza place and I saved a bunch of money and that’s how I moved to New York. And then I moved to New York and I was an expediter and also a server at this bar and restaurant in Bushwick. I worked as a barista. I worked at a pie shop, Four & Twenty Blackbirds.
J: I f*ck with Four & Twenty Blackbirds. The lemon chess pie is so good.
T: The salty honey pie, too. I worked there for six months and I was like, “Why have I gained 10 pounds?” And it’s like, oh, I literally eat pie every day.
J: Absolutely every day.
T: But yeah, all I’ve done is food service. My first job was at Cold Stone Creamery.
J: My first job was Ben and Jerry’s.
T: Yo, that’s actually cool.
J: Because I didn’t have to sing. I do think the singing is absolute labor exploitation.
T: 100 percent. I was a theater kid, but I just discovered smoking weed. So don’t throw me quarters and make me sing, because I need this money. I’m saving up for a school trip.
J: The singing shouldn’t happen at all. But the singing should be for bills only; you should not be singing for coins.
T: It’s actually incredibly offensive. We used to have people give us a dollar and be like, “Please don’t sing.” Like, I’m paying you not to sing. You, sir, are a saint, a gentleman, a scholar. But yeah, all I’ve done is food service. Until I started writing it, even when I was writing, I was also doing food service. Surprise! Freelance writing does not pay that much.
J: You gotta make the bridge until it’s fully sustainable.
T: I don’t know if I am at the age where I can associate with people who have never worked a service job. And it doesn’t even have to be food service. Retail’s fine.
J: It’s hard. After five minutes of talking to someone, I can tell you whether or not their parents are divorced or not. It’s the same with whether or not they’ve worked in service; you can smell it.
T: I can smell only children, too, not to be offensive to any of the only children here.
J: That’s like a whole other thing, but you can’t really talk ill of them because they will come for you
T: And they absolutely will, because they have no sense of consequence. Have you ever been out or on a date with somebody and at a restaurant or bar and something happens? The trope is like, “Oh, they tip poorly, right?” That’s already embarrassing, we hate that. I have a friend who will pull up to a restaurant and the host will be like, “Hey, how’s it going?” And he’ll just say, “Two.” First of all, she just asked a question, “Oh, I’m doing great. How are you? Love your earrings, you look very sweet. What would be the wait for a table for two?” It’s an extra 10 words, and you are communicating with this human like you’re a f*cking human.
J: On the one hand, you should just be behaving that way simply because it’s decent and human. But also, I watch how I get treated at restaurants behaving that way, speaking to people versus how people who don’t behave that way get treated. Guess who’s getting the table first? Guess who’s getting the better table?
T: They made two desserts. Guess who’s getting it sent out to them? I forgot to ring up this drink, you know what I mean? For a while, it felt like kind of a hack.
J: Just to be a good person.
T: Yeah, if I treat people with respect and dignity, they return the favor and we have a much better experience for both of us. But now it’s just like, “Oh, it’s interesting how that works.”
J: I think the generation above us, and then I think people in our generation, learned this from their parents. There’s this notion that restaurant employees are withholding the best table from you. There is one more of the sea bass. They have some alternative motive to not give you the best table in the house or give you a sh*tty table or tell you something is $86 when it’s not or trying to get you to buy something that’s not actually good.
T: You just have to stand up for yourself. and then they will give you what you want.
J: Exactly. When I tell you, that’s literally never the case.
T: It’s like when people are like, “Oh, do you have any more of this shirt in this size?” No, sorry, what we have is out there. They’re like, “Can you go check in the back?” You know what? I’m gonna go back there. I’m going to hit my f*cking vape. Or, can you ask if the chef will do this? I’m like, “Yeah, he’s not going to do that now.” I’ll go back there. We will make fun of you for a solid two and a half minutes, and then I will come out and tell you the same exact answer that I had before.
J: Every single time.
T: In what world would I, in a job where most of my income is me debasing myself enough for you to give me a tip that I’m literally surviving on, not go out of my way to do those things for you and not deny you those things? If it was going to make a difference in how much you were going to tip me. That doesn’t make any f*cking sense.
J: It’s so bizarre. I hope by having this conversation, that notion is on its way out and people understand that the actual move is to show up and treat them not like your friend, because they are at work, but you need to give them respect. They’re at work today and you’re at work tomorrow. There’s no status level, they’re working right now, you’re not there on the clock. You’re off the clock, but tomorrow you’re going to be on the clock, they’re off the clock. Just treat them like a peer. Certainly not an underling, but also not like a gatekeeper. Because they’re not. They’re literally the opposite, they are like a full-service gate opener.
T: They don’t have the keys to the gate. I feel like there was also, and it’s a generational thing, where there was a time when working at a fast-food restaurant, being a server, being a bartender, those were entry-level jobs that you did while you were in college or figuring things out. Obviously, that is not the case anymore, and it has fully not been the case for a long time. People still believe that. People are servers as a career, and it’s honestly a good career. I really love working in the service industry. I honestly, earnestly do. But I think that, generationally, this used to be a job that was associated with people who are just starting out or trying to get job experience. People who work in an office or make a wage that they can live on look down on those people because they’re like, “Well, you could just get a better job.” You’re in middle management, maybe you have a little bit of power, but you got your ass reamed out by your boss or something that day, you come into a restaurant, it’s like this person is below you, and so you are getting off on treating them as if they’re below you because it gives you some semblance of power.
J: The first restaurant I worked at in New York was a very fancy Italian restaurant in Gramercy, and I started to think about this a lot. I continued working in the restaurant industry in New York for seven years. What you just described, the fact that it is a career now and it’s a lucrative career and a place you can really grow in, poses a huge threat to a lot of the systems and institutions in place of society that keeps the wealthy at the top. Because it’s like, “Oh, well, anyone can get a job because you don’t need a degree to work in restaurants.” People tell you you have to go to college if you want to make six figures. Well, guess how much the bartenders at Catch are making on a Friday or Saturday night? I hate to break it to you, babe.
T: The barbacks, too. Guess how much the busboys at Eleven Madison Park are making.
J: Oftentimes I have experienced, when people who work in corporate America are working more like, “traditional career paths,” find out how much some of the New York City and other metropolitan service industry professionals are making, they’re like, “Well, that’s crazy. They shouldn’t be making that much.” And I’m like, “Why?” “Well, they didn’t go to college for it.” It’s like, OK. What do you do, PR? How hard do you work every day? Are you saying that barbacks aren’t working as hard? What is the actual quantifiable reason why you deserve more money than them? Explain that to me.
T: I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, and I was thinking about it recently in the context of when somebody is “weird” or out of the ordinary. Whether that means you are an adult with dyed hair, piercings or tattoos, or even more extreme. Not that this is weird, but to some people, it’s outside of their experience. When someone is openly gay and not trying to suppress that and, like, trying to hide it for people, or when someone is visibly non-binary or trans or visibly expresses their gender in a way that is not the norm, people are not afraid of that, but, I think they’re resentful of it to a certain extent. Where it’s just like, “No, no, no, no, no. I did everything right. I went to school, I got good grades, I graduated. I went to college, graduated, I got married, I started my job, I bought my house. I had my two and a half kids. And I am still suffering in society, and I did everything right. So why should you be happy because you broke the rules? I think it’s really a resentment.
J: It’s resentment because that’s probably a really hard and horrible thing to confront. Especially if you’re in your later years of life, if you’re in your 50s or 60s and you’re like, “I’m sorry, wait. I’ve been doing this for decades because I thought we had to do this, and you’re telling me you’re allowed to be happy. You’re telling me that you were allowed to do this and be happy, and it’s chill?”
T: You didn’t follow the rules and I did, and you’re happy and I’m not. It’s not a phobia, you don’t fear it. It’s literally just like, you’re mad at these people for being exactly who they are. And I think that translates for me into people like being career servers or the GM of a restaurant four nights a week making $120,000. You were told that you have to go to college and get the degree and you did all that, and these people didn’t, and they’re making more than you. Or they just have a better work-life balance. They have more freedom to do things because they’re not 9-5 every single day. You’re mad at yourself for not having the freedom to do that kind of thing. This wasn’t how it used to be, and now it is. And that is bringing up some feelings for you. And you know what? I don’t feel bad.
J: I don’t. The thing is, I don’t feel bad. The thing is, I really don’t feel bad.
T: I was a nanny and a barista at the same time. I met my partner when I was a barista. Now we’re freaking happy living our lives. There have been so many opportunities that I would not have had if I wasn’t also doing the service industry thing and getting treated like sh*t and getting treated great, but mostly getting treated like sh*t by the people that came in. I learned so much and I never regret it, and I feel like everybody needs to do it for a little while in their lives because it makes you a better person or a more understanding person, in my opinion.
J: It ties into what we were just talking about where you can smell it on someone if they’re an only child. You can smell it on someone if someone’s never had to truly rely on a restaurant being busy to see if they can make rent that week. There’s something you get from that that you just can’t manufacture. That is why working in restaurants, you understand classism and elitism and the poisons of capitalism in this way. It’s so acute, especially if you’re working in Manhattan, you’re working at nicer places, and you’re serving these people who are fresh out of college, 20 years old, no bills in the world, just having a big-ass brunch. And you’re like, “Oh, this is unsolvable.” You will never understand certain aspects of the world and class if this is how your life works. There’s no way you could. And I almost can’t be mad at you for it. If I had been given the same opportunities, I’d have been like f*ck yeah, I’m going to brunch. I would have taken those same opportunities. But I’m so thankful that I wasn’t given those so that I could have this perspective.
T: I know if I had wealthy parents, they would have done anything they could to share that with me and make sure that I had a comfortable life as possible. I didn’t, and I’m vibing. I’ve been poor, not dirt poor, for my whole 20s. I haven’t traveled. I don’t really do things. I’m just starting to get to the point where it’s like, cool, this is what adulthood is. If I see a shirt that I want, I can purchase it, and it’s not going to mean that I can’t pay rent. I have a dishwasher, and that’s one of those things that hopefully, going forward, is going to be one of those things that I can afford in an apartment moving forward in the future. But yeah, I don’t know. Definitely, the class thing and definitely the capitalism thing. But also, people are like, “Oh, you’re a server. You bring food from the kitchen to the table. It’s not that hard.” Depending on what job you’re working, you are also somebody’s psychiatrist. You are the difference between someone having an anaphylactic reaction and not. People don’t realize the amount of responsibility that you’re taking, because when you’re at a restaurant, you’re focusing on what you’re doing and eating. Do you not see that your server has not sat down once in the last six hours or drank water or had a meal? They have a sitter and they’re coordinating with their sitter before they get home. This bartender is like getting his ear talked off by someone who’s obviously depressed but has all these other people to serve. Bartenders should get co-pays, in my note. They should be on some insurance.
J: Totally. It’s so clear that you have worked in every aspect of it. Being an expediter, I can’t really fully explain why it’s the hottest job in the restaurant. I think it’s because they are telling everyone what to do. Whenever someone says, “I’m an expo,” that’s hot. Objectively, that’s hot.
T: I was expo at a place that did a lot of deliveries, too.
J: Was it Roberta’s?
T: No, but it was down the street from Roberta’s. It was called 983 or Bushwick’s Living Room. They changed names a couple of times, it’s closed now. It’s right on Flushing, and I forget the cross street. We did a bunch of deliveries, too. I was bringing food up to tables. And I was also making sure that orders got into the correct bag and checking the receipts and making sure that they got napkins and utensils and the correct condiments they ask for, because I’m not trying to get a call in 20 minutes and have to send one of these, like, 23-year-old bike couriers back out to bring somebody honey mustard. It doesn’t sound like it’s that intense, but it’s a lot of organization. We all know what it feels like to be hungry. When you are what’s in between somebody who is hungry, getting what they want, and paying money for it, that’s a huge burden.
J: One of the most stressful experiences that I can be in is when I’m in a restaurant, and I start to get really low blood sugar and I’m like, I need to keep cool. I never want to be rude to someone in a restaurant. I never want to be on bad behavior. But chemically, I’m hitting a wall where I need some f*cking food. I need something. When that starts, I start to get really anxious, and I get it. That’s one of the very few times I’ve ever forgiven someone for being a true asshole. Someone who hasn’t eaten. I’ve had this exact conversation probably three times over my career in service where a person is like, “Hey, I’m realizing I was really rude to you earlier. I think I really needed food and was not in the right headspace, and I’m very sorry.” And I’m like, “I actually can do nothing but just forgive you for that because I get it.”
T: In the same way that if a server is short with me or weird to me, you’re probably having a bad day. Or maybe you’re just a sh*t person, but that’s not my business. As long as you’re doing everything right, you’re still going to get a 20 or 25 percent tip. Now, 25 percent.
J: Yeah, let’s be real.
T: I have been that person where it’s like, “I’m sorry. You got my order wrong. I was in a rush and I was short with you, and I really apologize.” It’s only happened once or twice, but it has been so merciful and graceful, in that way. I don’t know, being in the service industry teaches you humanity in a way that you cannot learn if you have not worked in the service industry.
J: When people are misbehaving in those ways and treating you sh*tty, it’s ignoring your humanity.
T: You don’t see me as a human.
J: You’re not looking at this situation and thinking logistically. I’ve been out, and I’m sure you’ve been in the same situation, someone is like, “Where the f*ck is our server?” And I’m like, “Well, have you not noticed that she just got 10 tables?” Look around for two seconds, and you can figure out exactly where your server is.
T: She’s right there. She has nine plates in her hand. Do you know what I mean? You’re wearing Crocs all day; those aren’t even comfortable to wear all day.
J: Did you like being a barista?
T: I really loved it. I’m a morning person; at least I used to be. But I’m a morning person in a big way. So I would always do the opening shifts at the cafe that I worked at. It was nice to be the first person that maybe somebody interacted with that day. And have the opportunity to start their day off. Make them an iced coffee, give them some small talk. Or if they’re still waking up, do not give them any small talk, make their coffee expeditiously, get it to them. If we have some leftover pastries from the day before, throw one in there. Give them a little smile, starting your day off right. Because you’re about to go to an office. And it f*cking sucks. Again, it sounds very corny, but it’s a nice power to have.
J: It’s a gift a little bit.
T: I feel so earnest about it. But when you have the power to make somebody’s day a little bit better, it feels good doing that — especially if you’re getting paid enough. When you’re a server, sometimes, you’re making $2.35 an hour. The tips are everything else. I was making a livable hourly wage and also getting tips on top of that. I was working at a place where I could afford to live. Meagerly, but still, I wasn’t miserable to be there in the morning. I wasn’t slogging to this job. This was my job.
J: That’s such an argument for paying your staff a livable wage. The restaurants that I worked at where we were valued and compensated always, and they never f*cked over the servers’ wages for the sake of guests or the owner, I will always respect this restaurant. I will always love this restaurant. I will always treat it well. The restaurants that didn’t, I was like, “I will sell you up the f*cking river to get my table to like me.”
T: For the restaurants that don’t, if you are one ounce ruder to me then I feel like tolerating today, I’m simply going elsewhere. It is not hard to find a server job in NYC.
J: That is my No. 1 thing I wish I had known back in the day. The first three years in New York, I stayed in jobs that were so brutal, because I thought I didn’t have another option. I did not understand how big New York was, which sounds stupid. But it was what I thought. That’s my No. 1 piece of advice to someone moving to New York. It’s a little bit different if you’re trying to make this your career. If you’re trying to work in the service industry, obviously you don’t want to jump around too much. I’m going to take that back. If you are being, like, abused at work, if someone is harassing you, someone is treating you like how an employer should not be teaching treating you, f*cking leave immediately,
T: F*cking quit. You don’t need to be there. I have quit a job, taken a day off to just decompress, and then found a job two days later and started the next day. Is there going to be a little gap in your income while you’re waiting for the paperwork to go through? Maybe. You’ve been poor before, you’ve recovered before. I’m such a proponent of, especially if you’re in the service industry and you’re being treated like sh*t, moving somewhere else because there are better places.
J: If you can’t afford to walk out, if you need that paycheck, find another place to go and get the f*ck out. It is not worth you staying in these places where people are being abusive.
T: Like we were talking about before, plenty of people are serving as a career, and that’s great and I love it. But many people are doing service jobs because they’re on their way to a different job. They’re working hard at succeeding in a creative career or something like that. They need this as income. There’s sometimes a pressure to be like, “Well, I need this job to pay my bills and I need this job because I’m going to need income while I’m working on this sh*t.” I’m just reiterating the same sh*t.
J: If you are trying to do something creative on the side, I’m telling you right now from experience, you’re not going to get anything done when you’re at a job that you have to drink six beers after because you’re so depressed and feel miserable. Guess what? I’m sorry, you’re not going to write your pilot the next morning. It’s not going to happen.
T: Your mental energy is spent recovering from being treated like garbage. You can go to a place and be treated correctly and still have time to work on it. You work at the right place, you find a lull in the morning, and you can work on your show there. I wrote an article that I submitted to The New Yorker while I was at the counter at the café. It was just a little dead. I submitted it and I got an email back the next day and they accepted it. I did this in between slinging scones. Wait, can I tell you a story? I know you have questions and I’m sorry if I’m taking this away.
J: We can do whatever we want.
T: One of my managers at the cafe that I most recently worked at was a member of NXIVM, the sex cult. I didn’t know for a long time.
J: An active member while you were working there? Or like, a survivor?
T: Let me tell you a story, and we can determine whether we’re going to put it into the podcast. She was super nice, one of the nicest people ever met. And she was Canadian. So I was like, “OK, so you’re Canadian, you’re nice, I love that.” A couple of times we had this regular come in while I was working with her, and she was like, “You look so familiar to me, are you like an actress? Are you a musician?” And my manager would be like, “No, no, no, but I get that sometimes.” I just have a look that I look like a lot of people. She was like, “Yeah.” And she came in another time and said the same thing, and my manager responded the same way. But the third time she came in, she was like, “No, I came in today because I know exactly who it is that I feel like you look like.” And she pulled up this image on her phone, and my manager looked at it and was like, “Yeah, that’s the one I get compared to all the time. I know I look exactly like her. It’s not me.” I looked at the image, and was like, “That’s absolutely you.” Her name was the caption of the photo. Her full name. The customer didn’t know her name, of course. If there is a reason why you are not acknowledging this, we can talk about that later, I’m not going to blow up your spot in front of this customer. We’re friends, you know? Let me just save this for later. So a couple of hours went by and I was like, “Listen, manager, quickest thing. That was you.” She was like, “Yeah, I was an actor on this big TV show. I used to date this person who was also an actor on a big TV show. And she got into some trouble, so I moved past that and I’m trying to leave that in my past.” And I was like, “Sure, no problem. Say no more.” Of course, immediately after work, I went home and did all the research that I could. They used to be married to the “Smallville” actress who was indicted.
J: Alison Mack.
T: Her ex-wife was my manager. It turned into this whole big thing for obvious reasons.
J: There’s an HBO documentary series.
T: It turned into a criminal case.
J: I love that you’re like, “Yeah, it went to criminal court,” and I was like, “No, it was on HBO.” That’s my high level. It went to the penal system.
T: But it fully was on HBO. The person who owned the cafe also owned another place down the street. And the manager at the cafe was also managing some days at that other place. When the staff at the other place found out about her, they all quit at once. They got together in an email and they were like, “We’re not working for this person; we all quit.” This was all pre-pandemic. That turned into a whole thing. They had to hire, not scabs per se, but just hire a bunch of new people and not tell them any of it. The owner of the cafe was really, really good friends with this manager. So people kept being like, “You gotta fire her.” And she was like, “No, no, no. She’s turned over a new leaf. She’s like a really good person. That’s in her past. I get why people don’t want to work with her, but I’m not going to leave it hanging out to dry like this. She’s my good friend.” And then the court case came to Brooklyn. The dude who was in charge of NXIVM was in the jail in downtown Brooklyn as his case was happening. A bunch of his former followers, or former members, made a bunch of signs in support of him and went to the jail and essentially twerked outside of the jail during the day of his trial. This manager was one of them. The owner found out and was like, “OK, I’ll fire her now.” I wouldn’t have had that if I hadn’t worked in the service industry. I wouldn’t have that story.
J: No, thank God. What does it say about me that I’m so jealous? That is incredible. Just that moment of her showing the photo and you being like, “That’s her.” The drama of that. I literally would die.
T: At that moment, I was thankful that I was on enough espresso to be like, “All right, this is the thing. We can talk about this later. I’m not going to blow up your spot.”
J: Totally. Yeah.
T: And then she blew up her own spot.
J: My closest version of that was one time at a restaurant I worked at in the West Village, it was like very much one of those places where the hosts were only attractive young women. They were always the nicest, cutest girls. I would always be chatting with them and friends with them. If you’re working in a restaurant, you always want to be friends with your host.
T: If they don’t like you, they’re just going to f*ck you over.
J: It’s going to be tough. So make friends with your host. Anyway, I went up to a new girl training with one of the hosts I was friendly with. And I was like, “Oh, what’s your name?” I don’t remember her name, but I was like, “What’s your deal? Did you just move here?” And she was like “Yeah, I just moved here. Scientology just transferred me here, for the next level of my training.” I didn’t know what to do. She was also so young that a part of me was like, “Am I supposed to like, get her out?” I don’t want to f*ck with Scientology. I don’t want to touch Scientology. I’m actually anxious that I’m talking about Scientology on this podcast. I didn’t know what to do, and so I was just like, “That’s so fun!” I ran back to the bar. I can’t even engage with this.
T: We’re not friends. I’ll be nice to you in this because I want to stay alive. I have two questions to ask.
J: Please ask me questions.
T: Do you have any other celeb stories? Because when you work in the service industry at a certain level of prestige, you get a lot of that.
J: I have a lot. The first one that comes to mind was the restaurant I worked at in Gramercy, the really boujee one, which was very celebrity-heavy. You would usually get one per shift, it was that dense. But because they had a system, that basically the restaurant and the hosts at the front have a database of any guest who comes in regularly and of celebrities. There’s information about what their allergies are, what their food is, what tables they like, literally everything. It gets down to what servers they like, that sort of thing. They print a ticket out and they give it to the server before you get sat with that person. At my restaurant, there was also a secret language so that if you dropped one and someone picked it up, it didn’t say Taylor Garron: picky, annoying. There were all of these codes. I can’t remember any of them. But if someone who didn’t work in the restaurant picked up, they wouldn’t know that it was saying anything scathing. But if you knew, you’d be like, “Oh, wow, this person sucks.” You always knew when you would be getting a celebrity. One time I was working lunch, and I was slammed. It was really busy. It was really stressful. And I got sat at table 37 and I was like, “Motherf*cker, I don’t have time for another table. I’m going to greet them.” So I grabbed the menus, I grabbed the water, I got halfway to the table and I’m like, “Oops, that’s Kathy Bates.” And I just pivot and run. I was like, “I’m not ready for that.” I immediately looked for any other gay person working, and the only other gay person on the floor was this barista, Michael. I ran up to him, I was like, “Kathy Bates is on table 37.” And he fully started crying. This restaurant was so stressful to work at, it was so miserable to work there, that our emotions were literally burning under our skin at all times.
T: You could cry at any moment.
J: A surprise Kathy Bates sent every queer person. We were done.
T: I mean, you looked for the nearest gay person. It’s funny ‘cause you said that, and I immediately knew what you meant.
J: So Kathy Bates was the big one. One time, Lena Dunham was in and she gave someone her phone to charge, and it was charging in the server station. So it was sitting near the computer, and she was getting text messages and notifications, and she did not have the privacy filter on. So anyone could have come out and just read all of her texts. I flipped her phone over, but I was constantly anxious. I was like, “Do I tell her you have to change that setting on your phone?” Anyone could flip over her phone and read what anyone was texting Lena Dunham in this horrible invasion of privacy.
T: Literally Jack Antonoff.
J: But I was like, you are so famous, you have to change the privacy setting on your phone. And then she flagged me down and asked me to get her phone for her, and I was like, “This is my moment. Do I say something?”
T: I could see how it would have gone the wrong way.
J: It could have on the wrong way. But I was like, in your best interest, you really should turn on the privacy setting on your phone. I just remembered one other. I bartended at the “Ant-Man” premiere party, which was really fun but also really wild. I’ve obviously never been to a high-end, giant Hollywood party like that where it was all the stars and all the people who want to be in Marvel movies are there to schmooze.
T: Yeah, exactly.
J: That was a real behind-the-curtain look into how this all works, in a way that was really wild. People got f*cked up at that party.
T: What else do you do in a situation like that? I need to be at least a couple of drinks in.
J: What about you?
T: Speaking of Lena Dunham, when I was at 983, one of our regulars was Zosia Mamet. She was a bad tipper. Like a really bad tipper.
J: Nooo. That sucks.
T: This was 2014, 2015. So it’s a different time, it was before people cared about black people. It was a different time. I’m not forgiving her. Yeah, I was a server. I was a woman of color. I get that I wasn’t someone who was valuable to you at that moment. Before 2020 happened. Before then, they didn’t realize that I had value. I like to f*ck with celebrities. It’s just one of my favorite things, and I hope that when I’m wildly famous, people do the same to me. For example, the girl I used to nanny for, her best friend was the daughter of Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams. She went to private school, and there were so many times I had to bring her to a birthday party and I’m like, “Literally, what do I get this little girl for her birthday? She has everything she could ever want.” My most memorable time is that they were on a field day and I showed up at school to pick them up. And Michelle Williams is chillin’ waiting for her daughter to get out of class. And maybe this is f*cked up of me, and maybe it’s from years of working in food service where sometimes celebrities come in and expect you to kiss their ass. And I like to make sure that they feel the opposite. So I went up to her and I was like, “Listen, I’m so sorry to bother you. I know this is so annoying; apologies in advance.” And I could see her face drop. And I was like, “Is this where the fifth-grade pickup is?” And she was like, “Yeah,” and I was like, “Oh my God, thanks.” I turned around, walked away. I had a regular at the cafe that I worked at who was Adrian Grenier. The guy from “Entourage.”
J: Did you work at Painters’?
T: No, I worked at Clementine Bakery. But he was one of our regulars who was always outside with a very young blond woman and his little fluffy dog. The dog was really cute. But you could tell that he sat on the street specifically and looked around so people would walk up to him and be like, “Are you? Oh my God.” Which, I get it.
J: Yes, I mean, you did it. You got famous.
T: You want people to notice. You worked hard for it.
J: I don’t judge it, honestly. If you want and you can get it, you’re not hurting anyone.
T: There are plenty of horrible ways to get attention, and it’s an annoying way for people who are watching you, but you’re not harming anyone.
J: And did “Entourage” harm people? Honestly, probably, yes. Culturally, yes.
T: But it’s all right. I would make his coffee, go outside, and do the same thing. I’d be like, “I’m so sorry to bother you.” And I could see his face light up, opposite of Michelle Williams. Like, “So sorry to bother you. I’m sure you get this all the time. I feel like it’s so annoying to be that person, but can I pet your dog?”
J: That’s funny.
T: Maybe that makes me a sociopath, the fact that I really get enjoyment out of that. But it’s not me doing it to make them have a bad day. It’s me doing it to be like, I see you like everybody else, and maybe that’s good for you. In Michelle Williams’ case, she was like, “I really don’t have this conversation. I’m picking my kid up.” Listen, I don’t even know you’re a celebrity. I’m 21 years old.
J: Maybe she liked that, maybe she felt normal for a second. You gave her a gift.
T: I gave her the gift of being normal. I gave Adrian Grenier a gift of being normal, against his will because he doesn’t want to be normal. But you know what? I’m the great celebrity equalizer.
J: Yeah, and celebrities want that. Do you remember that interview Beyoncé did a few years ago, where she talks about how sometimes when she’s on a plane, people don’t recognize her and she’ll just have a conversation with them?
T: There’s absolutely no chance.
J: Beyoncé, no you’re not. You’re telling me you’re on Delta? You have not flown commercial.
T: You literally don’t know what Delta is. You’re like, yeah the variant. Another thing she said recently is that she loves riding a bike through the park. I’m like, let me know where you go. But she’s like, “I love riding a bike through the park with my friends because I will ride past someone and they’re like, ‘Oh my God, that was Beyoncé.’ But by the time they recognize that I am fully far away on my bike and they’re not going to chase after me on my bike.” That’s believable.
J: But people would chase Beyoncé on a bike.
T: I’m sure the friends that she’s out with are her bodyguards.
J: And they’re all on Lime scooters with a gun.
T: The scooter is actually also a gun.
J: Like artillery scooters. Do you ever go to Lucali in Carroll Gardens? Have you been there?
J: It’s a pizza place that’s old, cash only. They don’t have anything on the menu besides pizza and calzones. And it’s f*cking good. But it’s kind of a hassle to get in there because they don’t take reservations; it’s a whole thing. But Beyoncé and Jay-Z have been going there, so it’s like a whole thing. We took my friend there for his birthday because he loves trying different pizza spots and hadn’t been there. So we took him. And I was joking, “I wonder if Jay-Z and Beyoncé will be there.” As we’re sitting guests who gets sat across the room for us? Ed Sheeran.
T: I cannot think of a celebrity I would want to see less.
J: What was funny is that the Escalade pulled up, because we were sitting outside, and the agent definitely got out and started talking to the host and schmoozing. And I was like, “Wait, someone’s showing up, something’s happening.” I don’t freak out when I see celebrities, I’m like, “Oh, that’s cool.” I don’t have any sort of emotional attachment to it. Beyoncé and Jay-Z would be intense. It would be really intense to see them.
T: That’s just somebody who is larger than life. That’s like running into f*cking Michael Jackson at this point.
J: For me, it would be her, Lady Gaga, Oprah, Britney. The people who are famous in a way that is planetary.
T: You could go to a remote place and they would know who you are.
J: The tribes that have never been disturbed, ever, like in the Amazon. They know Britney Spears. I was like, If Jay-Z and Beyoncé show up, that’ll be kind of cool. And then the door opens and so loudly I go, “No f*cking way.” That’s Ed f*cking Sheeran. He had the mask on. But with his hair, unless it’s Rupert Grint…
T: I would be more excited if it was Rupert Grint.
J: Absolutely. But it wasn’t. It was a hardcore Ed Sheeran.
T: How do you feel about going alone to restaurants?
J: We’ll wrap up in a second. But you just asked a question that I’m really into, so we’ll talk about this and then we’ll wrap it up. I am a very pro-alone restaurant. I prefer a bar seat at a restaurant if I’m alone at a table. If I sense the energy of the bartender and if they’re down to chat, then that’s fun. If I need to kill time between working and then I have a show at 9 p.m., a solo dinner at the bar with a couple of small plates and a cocktail is heaven to me.
T: To me, it’s one of my favorite things to do. I have a friend who tells me, “I know that you do it and I’m not saying this to be rude to you. But I feel like to me, it’s so deeply embarrassing to go to a bar and have a drink by myself or go to a restaurant and eat dinner by myself. I feel like everyone’s judging me. I feel like everyone’s looking at me.” First of all, they’re not.
J: They’re literally not.
T: They’re there to eat; they don’t care. Can you imagine someone walking to a bar and sitting by themselves and you being “Ugh, what’s wrong with them?”
J: Even if someone is thinking that, they’re the loser.
T: Maybe you’re judgmental and that’s why you think that people are talking that way. It’s my favorite thing to do, especially when I just got out of work or I’m doing something here and then I have to do something in the area. I’m going to find a place that I like that’s equidistant between both. I’m going to take the train there, I’m going to bring a book or I’m going to make sure my phone is charged, and I’m just going to enjoy this meal solo. The chat with the bartender can be crucial, but you do have to suss it out.
J: You have to suss it out. A book can be nice. I also sometimes will put my phone down and just enjoy the ambiance of the room and have it be a moment. It’s almost like a meditation, just sitting there quietly, sipping on a Martini or a glass of wine and whatever I’m eating. I love that. I’ll usually pick a restaurant with a room I really love, one of my favorite spots.
T: Do you have a top restaurant?
J: I have a very deep love for Walter’s in Fort Greene. I love that restaurant.
T: I went there for brunch the other day.
J: I haven’t been to either of those yet. I’m going to Hart’s for the first time next week, and I’m so excited.
T: We have to go. Let’s go to Cervo’s. Also, Melissa Rich lives really close.
J: I was going to say where she lives exactly, and I’m not going to say that. This is a public podcast.
T: It’s pretty close. But there have been several times where I go there and she’s having dinner there because she lives so close. Secondly, my partner is really good friends with the people who own those restaurants.
J: And I’ve heard they’re very good people.
T: Yeah, they’re really, really kind. They’re a young family; they’re just really good. Now that they know that I’m with my partner, I will go by myself to Cervo’s and the executive chef will send me something. And it’s the best thing that I’ve ever had because it’s free and I got it just for existing in this restaurant. And then I tip you 40 percent.
T: Please let me know. We’ll go.
J: I’m going to hit you up on that very, very soon. I truly promise. You just touched on something that is the point we should wrap up on. If you hear that a restaurant is owned by good people, run by good people, if you sense that the servers who are working are in a good mood and happy to be working there, that is so important. Obviously, the food and the drinks and stuff need to be good, but they’re going to be if the people who are making them are good people and happy. If your server is always sweating, red in the face, f*cking miserable, you got to find a new spot. That’s not the spot.
T: Help that server find a new spot if you can.
J: Support the places where people are doing it right on an ethical, emotional level.
T: Those are the places that are like, “Oh, somebody has a positive for Covid. We’re going to shut down for the night to make sure all of our staff can get tested.” There are a million places that won’t do that and will just continue going and expose everybody.
J: Yeah, and bury that info.
T: Yeah, I don’t know. I love restaurants and bars. I love going out. It’s just all the best.
J: Yeah, you were the perfect guest. This was such a good convo. Thank you so much for coming on. I’ll see you at Cervo’s soon.
Thank you so much for listening to “Going Out With Jake Cornell.” If you could please go and rate and review us on whatever you’re listening to this on, that would be really gorgeous for me in a huge way, so thank you.
And now, for some credits. “Going Out With Jake Cornell” is recorded in New York City and is produced by Keith Beavers and Katie Brown. The music you’re hearing is by Darbi Cicci. The cover art you’re probably looking at was photographed by M. Cooper and designed by Danielle Grinberg. And a special shoutout to VinePair co-founders Adam Teeter and Josh Malin for making all of this possible.