Food News

Tales From the Table: Prank Wars

Photo proof of prank payback.
Photo proof of prank payback. Anonymous
Hospitality workers have stories. Lots of them, from bad guest behavior to pranks that became legends to mishaps that are still talked about years later. In our new series, Tales From the Table, we're sharing some of the most memorable stories from bar and restaurant vets, as well as the lessons they learned along the way. Their identities have been withheld to protect the innocent (and sometimes guilty).

The place: A now-closed trendy dinner destination in RiNo

When: The summer of 2014

Who: A chef in his late twenties

The tale: We pulled a lot of pranks on each other, things like giving someone a Smirnoff Ice and telling them to hide with it in the cooler. Then we'd leave that person there a while and eventually send someone else in to get something, and they'd be iced! That was kind of a prank on both people — plus scaring people is always funny.

I remember one server had this terrible Frisbee golf disc, and we told him to put it on Craigslist, then we used this website to create a fake phone number. We were only allowed a certain number of texts from the number, so we had to be really careful with spacing them out, but we ended up having a whole back-and-forth with him, trying to barter porno mags and even a fictional "loose sister" for the disc. He didn't take us up on any of the offers, but the next day, he came in to work saying, "Oh, my God, you're not going to believe what happened." Everybody knew it was fake, but we played along all day until we finally came clean — he got pretty upset.

Another time, we decided to see how many cigarette breaks we could get one of the cooks to take. She'd go out for one, then she'd come back in and someone would say, "Hey, you've been working really hard, wanna go have a cigarette with me?" Then another person would do the same. It went on like that for four hours and 25 cigarettes before the executive chef got mad about the hijinks and put a stop to it.

Eventually, I put in my notice at the place — I gave them three weeks instead of two just so they'd have plenty of time to find someone new. For that entire three weeks, every single person saved every ticket that was printed. On my last day — the day before the 4th of July — one of the employees asked if she could stash her weed in my car. I didn't think anything of it, so I gave her my keys.
click to enlarge
Tickets, tickets everywhere.
A while later, she said she accidentally left my keys outside and told me to go get them. That's when I saw the mayhem. It had to be at least 10,000 tickets stashed all over my car. I was finding tickets for weeks, there were so many. I remember one day I pulled down the sunglass holder and tickets came flying down. Every single employee was in on it.

The lesson: If there are pranks happening in a restaurant, it's a good sign. Pranks in that environment are about camaraderie, and we had an awesome team. If you're not fucking with each other, you obviously don't like each other — although there are some ground rules. Never mess with people's food or drinks — or a chef's knives.

And if you're gonna prank people, be prepared to be pranked.

Do you have a memorable story from working at bars or restaurants in Denver? Email [email protected] for a chance to be featured in Tales From the Table.
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Molly Martin is the Westword Food & Drink editor. She’s been writing about the dining scene in Denver since 2013, and was eating her way around the city long before that. She enjoys long walks to the nearest burrito joint and nights spent sipping cocktails on Colfax.
Contact: Molly Martin