“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom…is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”
– Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations: The Final Tour
We are looking for faces. From the capitol to the soup kitchen. The museums to the playgrounds. The courthouse to the jailhouse. The Innovation Hub to William Woodruff’s print shop. Labor and delivery to Mount Holly. Faces of brooding peace. Sorrowful faces. Wise faces. Happy faces. Woo Pig Sooie faces. Faces young and old. The Faces of Arkansas. This gallery of faces from inside the food industry peeks at the people behind the food drinks and service we often leave on the periphery in the second of AMP’s new series Faces of Little Rock.
The food industry is a multi-faced beast. On one side you have the smiling, the politeness, the food and the drinks. On the other side you have the people. The cooks, servers, bartenders and managers that grind shift to shift in the hopes of finding something, whether that be a paycheck, experience, and escape, maybe even a sliver of peace.
Restaurants naturally bring people together. The customers come for the food in two hour intervals, but the people behind the food remain. They watch the faces whiz by. They find commonality in their work though they come from many different walks of life. The dishwasher with aspirations of being a chef, the server with hopes for a big break, the cook looking for cash and the bartender biding his time until he can take the trip of a lifetime.
Not everyone is cut out for the service industry, especially restaurants, but once the time has been put in and the time card punched, the badge is earned. A certain amount of street-cred comes with the apron, and while service industry folks might all go home to something different, they all pause for a brief or maybe not so brief moment at the local watering hole. They discuss the day just like families around the kitchen table, but instead of stories of homework or a hectic day at the office, discussion focuses on the cuts and burns, the rude customers and the occasional big tip. This is where we find ourselves, a bar frequented by those in the industry.