Welcome back to Restaurant Confessionals, where we talk to the unheard voices of the restaurant industry from both the front-of-house (FOH) and back-of-house (BOH) about what really goes on behind the scenes at your favorite establishments.
I totally understand wanting to break up at a bar—it's neutral territory. But in practice, you're subjecting people to a lot. I would almost say it's kind of rude.
It's usually pretty easy to tell when someone's having a rough night, but it's also easy to tell if someone's a good bar customer, if someone knows how to behave themselves in a bar. If someone comes in and has good vibes, even if they're down in the dumps, I'm not averse to sending them a drink—I've done that before. Certainly if a regular comes in and looks super sad.
The woman asked what the most expensive Scotch they had on the menu was, and it was Johnnie Walker Blue Label: $150 for a double. She ordered it just to throw in the dude's face, and then left.
I find that more often than not people don't want to talk about it in detail. I don't have a lot of experiences where people showed up after the breakup and talked through it. It's always been more just dramatic, weird shit.
My friend Ian, who's also a bartender, just told me today that he was working at a fancy place uptown and this couple came in. The woman asked what the most expensive Scotch they had on the menu was, and it was Johnnie Walker Blue Label: $150 for a double. She ordered it just to throw in the dude's face, and then left. Which I think is pretty badass. Let's really hope he fucking deserved it, because that's a pretty hostile move.
There have been two really stand-out occasions when I saw people break up at my bars. But the worst was this one time when a couple came in to this Filipino bar where I worked at the time, and their breakup was pretty ugly. She got really shrill and annoying, he was yelling, and they kept trying to calm each other down, but he ended up just storming off.
She just sat there crying for an hour, so I'd periodically check in and ask "Hey, so, are you doing OK over here?" She'd say, "Yeah, I just need a minute," At some point I had to go over there and say "You know, I know what's going on, but you guys have a $70 bill for your dinner." She started sobbing uncontrollably, so we ended up comping her dinner and she was going, "Oh, thank you, this is so nice, I feel awful, blah blah blah."
Around this time, the DJ was setting up and the nightlife vibe was starting to happen. We were expecting her to leave at this point, but she ended up staying and going over to the bar. She had kind of fixed her face, but she still looked like she'd been crying. You could tell that she was having one of those nights.
So then, men were just buying her all of these drinks. She talked to a bunch of different dudes, would go in the corner with them, end up hugging them, and then basically made out with like, five different people at the bar. She had started off as this emotional mess, but then she started dancing. She kept dropping it low but then falling and wouldn't be able to get back up. She was rolling around on the floor with a crowd of skeezy dudes around her at all times. She had taken her shoes off at some point. We couldn't really cut her off because other people were buying drinks for her.
At that point, the brother of one of our security guards came in, who's this 300-pound Samoan dude, and she just totally beelined for him. She took to him immediately. She brought him home, and he showed up the next day for happy hour covered in bruises and hickeys. We were like, "What the hell happened to you, dude?" Apparently they were having some amazing sex until she threw up all over his bed.
The best part was that a week later she showed back up at the bar on the same night of the week, and became a regular from then on. She would pull so many dudes. But that was by far the most dramatic breakup I saw at the bar.
Over the course of the fight, this one woman is screaming about Facebook the whole time. So you'd hear "bitch" and "cunt," but then every five words you'd hear "Facebook."
Well, besides this one other time. Everything was fine at first—it was just a hip-hop night. But at the end of the night, when we turned on the lights and kicked everyone out of the bar, we heard yelling and screaming outside. It's this woman saying, "I've seen you looking at my man's Facebook! I've seen you commenting on his photos, liking his photos, poking him!"
We were all laughing and watching from inside, but we sent out security to tell them to quiet down so the neighbors wouldn't complain. All of us were clustered by the blinds peeking out. This big brawl breaks out—there were these ten big girls, tough girls. Over the course of the fight, this one woman is screaming about Facebook the whole time. So you'd hear "bitch" and "cunt," but then every five words you'd hear "Facebook," which was pretty hilarious. Our security team initially tried to get involved, but was kind of getting fucked up by all of these angry women, so they retreated back.
All of the men were on the sidelines. The dude who had the Facebook account in question was posted up outside the bar area. The girl came over and they ended up breaking up on the spot. The now-ex-girlfriend chased after him heckling, "Whatever, I don't even want you back!" but she was still following him. It was going on forever. Very dramatic.
The next day, I showed up to open the place and there were bits of weave EVERYWHERE. It was insane. My boss was like, "Go outside and clean up some of the weave." For weeks afterwards it kept showing up. It would breeze its way into the restaurant, it would be outside. It was like glitter—it just never went away. We called it The Weave That Would Not Leave.
I don't think I ever technically broke up with someone at a bar, personally. But when I was 21, I got involved with this guy who DJed a bunch of really popular local parties and club nights. After we first hooked up, someone told me he had a girlfriend, so I kind of stopped everything. But when I asked, he told me that they had already broken up, that she was just some crazy girl, and I believed him. I found out two months later that he indeed had a girlfriend when we first hooked up and that he had just lied about it. So I didn't know until after that she was kind of reacting appropriately to having your boyfriend, whom you live with, hooking up with a random 21-year-old.
One night, I was with my friend Lily and we were going to one of his DJ nights—a big stupid hipster party. We immediately went to the bathroom to do whip-its, and the girlfriend came in with four of her friends and cleared everybody else out. When I came out of the stall, one of them pinned my friend and the others held me down while one girl punched me in the face. I had just done whip-its, so I was laughing hysterically, like that movie Thirteen, because it was fucking funny. I mean, I'm sorry that I accidentally fucked your boyfriend, but you don't need to beat me up with four other women in a bar bathroom. I think I murmured "I fucked your boyfriend" while laughing, which was a bad call.
Finally it stopped, and I pushed my way out and ran through the bar. The guy was outside and I started yelling, "Fuck you, you fucking asshole. Your crazy-ass girlfriend just beat the shit out of me in a bathroom for your piece of shit ass." I was screaming about his tiny little dick, how he wasn't worth it. He was like "Whoa, whoa, baby, I'm sorry, this isn't that big of a deal!" I took off down the street and he was following after me. This was in front of everybody—there were probably 50 people milling around outside the bar. I think that counted as a pretty public breakup.
It's hard for me to think of specific times when I drank my way through a breakup, because I basically just drank through life until I was 25, whether or not I was breaking up.
I remember going to the bar by myself a couple of times and dudes would try to talk to me. Like, "Hey, what are you doing here alone?"
As told to Hilary Pollack
This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES in February 2015.