Cafe Society

Five reasons restaurant employees should be allowed to have tattoos and piercings

Being stylish has its price: For restaurant employees, having a tongue barbell, ear plugs, bright pink locks or an anime tattoo on their arms could get them fired, bitched at -- or not hired in the first place. An unconventional look with body modifications and Manic Panic really should not be a deterrent to working in the food-service industry, but it often is -- and while some employers are rational and realistic, there are still other who actually believe that customers will be freaked out to the point of choking on their meatloaf and mashed potatoes at the sight of some ink or a nose ring.

I'm calling bullshit on all that. Here's my list of five reasons why restaurant employees should be allowed to have visible tattoos and piercings. Let the freak flags fly, with a side of fries and a Coke.

See also: - Top eight Colorado flag tattoos - Top ten most unusual Denver Broncos tattoos - Tattoo artist/rock star Corey Miller on music, ink and television

5. People with ink and metal are not automatically unhygienic Here's a news flash: Most people who choose to get ink or piercings regularly bathe and groom. During the course of my career, I've heard gross mischaracterizations from food-service employers about applicants with ink and piercings being dirty, unkempt, even disease-ridden -- and at the very least, certain to scare poor, hapless customers who would almost certainly abandon their chicken fingers and make a dash for the parking lot upon seeing a lip ring or hint of ink through a shirt sleeve. Sure, there are people who don't wash themselves, get trashed on cough syrup and pierce themselves with safety pins, and get horrible jailhouse tats in their friend's garage (or in actual jail) -- but being a non-showering McNasty isn't exclusive to people who get alternative body modifications. And anyone who acts like an idiotic tweener shouldn't be hired by restaurants, anyway -- that's what mall food courts are for. 4. Tats don't bleed into food, and jewelry doesn't fall out often Employers who ask their staff to cover up their tattoos with long sleeves or bandages should be held down and forcibly tattooed, on the face, with the words "I'm a giant dick!" -- because servers running around with bandages over tattoos and Band-Aids over piercings look stupid, and also present a way worse image to customers. Instead of appearing to have gotten some ink during spring break in Cancun or a Monroe with a shiny, pink gemstone for their birthday, they look like they were beaten up the night before in a bar brawl.

I understand that managers get bent out of shape at the idea that someone could drop a ball, or a ring could end up in someone's plate of vegan squash soup -- but in reality, only cheap body jewelry is that flimsy, and it takes a concerted effort to unscrew/tug loose a well-made, well-fitting piece. Why not compromise and just tell employees not to buy crap body jewelry from Spencer Gifts -- or they'll be written up or canned on the spot on general principle.

3. Customers are sporting rings, barbells and ink themselves I never understood why restaurants insist they have an image to maintain that includes making sure employees adhere to an outdated dress code, when people who eat in these restaurants don't live in bubbles or vacuums. It's not logical to assume that diners would be mortally offended by a server or host(ess) having a tattoo or an eyebrow ring, when most of them have a modest bit of ink and an extra hole here and there themselves.

Most restaurant patrons simply want the people who cook their food and the people who bring it to them to be clean, friendly and non-intrusive. A cook having a Batman tat on his neck isn't going to affect the taste of food either way, and a server having snakebites isn't going to make coffee go cold or beer go warm.

Besides, I have ink and piercings, and restaurants have no problem taking my money.

Continue reading for more reasons.

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Jenn Wohletz
Contact: Jenn Wohletz

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