A Personal History of Shift Meals

Depending on the restaurant you’re working for, your shift meal is either free or half-off, usually from a limited version of the regular menu, that you can eat during your breaks. I never worked for a restaurant upscale enough for a staff meal (where the whole place shuts down while everyone eats a communal meal specially prepared by the kitchen), which is a shame, because it was my highest ambition as a server and I never achieved it. I always imagined that working at the kind of restaurant that offered staff meals involved a lot of slow-motion laughter about chic little anecdotes, access to an on-site herb garden, free sommelier training, and better-looking customers. But shift meals were pretty good too: “Finally, it’s

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