A two weeks notice is the common standard yet the restaurant business is a fickle bitch and there are a lot of shady people in the industry. I should know, I’ve worked in 108 Kitchens over the past 26 years. I know that things can be cool one minute and then turn to shit in a split second. For whatever reason, sometimes things just don’t vibe right despite the best intentions of both parties involved and you have to part ways.
The double standard.
Let’s face it, a place can screw you over left and right but the social expectation is that you always give at least a two weeks notice. The flip side to this is that most states are “Right to work” states meaning that an employer can fire your ass at any time for just about any reason. In some situations, you have a bit of protection but for all intents and purposes, you’re outgunned.
Yeah, it’s fucked up and I’ve been on both sides of the coin given that I’ve walked out of more Kitchens then I can count and been fired from just as many if not more. I’ve also had people go out for a smoke and never come back, then send their mom in a week later to pick up their check (like a bitch).
So what have I learned about how to make the best of a bad situation and what do you need to do to cover your ass without burning bridges?
Access the situation
Listen, I get it, most of us are living paycheck to paycheck and you’ve got to cover your ass. This is without a doubt priority number one. You need to figure out where you stand with the powers that be and how they’ve handled other peoples departures. If they’re the type of people who are cool and you’re in good standing with them, by all means, give two weeks notice. If they’re dicks and tend to cut people’s hours or fire them outright, cover your ass.
Don’t be a bitch
Sometimes things don’t work out and you have to bail on a place. Sometimes the heat and bullshit reach critical levels in the moment and you have to call it quits. Even if things are coming to an end on bad terms, you can still keep your integrity even if everyone else is being a total douchebag.
Call me old fashioned but if I’m going to say fuck someone or someplace, I’m going to look them eyes and make sure there’s no misunderstanding or confusion about where we stand. If I’m going to walk out in the middle of a shift, I don’t need to make a scene since I still need to get paid, but I’m also going to make sure that the powers that be know that I’m leaving and not coming back. It’s called integrity and respect and it’s seriously lacking in the new breed of Instagram Chefs .
You’re only as good as your reputation.
While there might be a major labor shortage right now, people in the industry still love to talk shit. Even if you’re in a big city, the nature of the beast is gossip and word gets around quick. People in this game also tend to be petty and hold grudges If you’re going to burn bridges (and trust me, I have), be ready to face the consequences years later. That being said, owners also gain reputations as being for their own sins so it works both ways. And if things really get ugly, this article will help you deal with the worst of the vermin.
At the end of the day, you have to cover your ass and the business has to look out for their best interest as well. This doesn’t mean things have to end badly as long as you keep things respectable and focus on what works best for both parties. If you’re focused on the problem, that’s all you’re going to see, if you focus on the solution, you’ll find it.