What It's Really Like To Work At Dick's Last Resort

We may be used to service with a smile but at Dick's Last Resort, customers can expect their meals to come with a side of sass and sarcasm. The bar and restaurant chain has become a viral sensation due to its intentionally obnoxious staff. Patrons of the establishment should come prepared to be insulted and placed in embarrassing situations with adult bibs and hats with colorful insults written across them. Zingers are just part of the charm of the chain's appeal. 

Starting in 1985 in Dallas, Dick's now has 13 restaurants across the country. And despite the unconventional concept and outlandish sense of humor, it still serves up delicious platefuls of food — including succulent steaks, towering big burgers, and lip-smackingly good ribs.

But what's it really like to work at Dick's? We asked real employees to give us the inside scoop about working at a place where the customer is never right and the insults burn more than the hot wings.

You have to audition for the role

Forget your traditional job interview where you have to sit across a desk from a table of suits and discuss your biggest weakness and greatest strengths. At Dick's Last Resort, it's all about proving you have the right personality and that can mean doing some pretty bizarre stuff. A former employee, who remained anonymous on Glassdoor, revealed, that answering "quirky" questions or busting out a dance move may be part of the interview process. 

Former employee Sarah Gabrielli said on Tik Tok that her hiring manager asked her a ton of ice breaker questions, including "what's your most embarrassing moment?" and "what's the greatest gift you've ever given?" Manager Kelly Bangert told Star Tribune that they also do improv games, word association, and charades. Staff may be asked to act out a random scenario, such as being an aging ballerina. And for some auditions, the final test is a dance competition.

Samantha Harthan told Mashed that powers of persuasion and charm are a clear requirement, and potential employees are asked to get into groups and try to sell a random item to each other — like a single shoe, for example. Applicants are also given fake jobs and have to act out a skit. "I got a scared superhero and the girl I was against got a monotone weather reporter," Harthan explained Mashed. "We had to come up with a skit off the top of our head. It was hilarious."

There's a whole training process to get your comedy skills up to scratch

Once you make it past the audition stage, it's time to get thrown into some intense training. But this training process isn't just about learning the menu's specials or how to properly set a table. Generally lasting fourt to five days, Samantha Harthan told Mashed that the training gives your comedy skills a workout. "The trainers will teach you how to tend bar but also show you the ins and outs of comedy to put you to the test to see if you can deliver."

Harthan added that the training is helpful for when customers do get it upset because it teaches staff how to win customers back and "get them back on [our] side."

Another former employee on Glassdoor, said the final stage of training is called The Verbal Assault, and that servers must explain menu items, but in a way that would be entertaining to the customer. When paired with loud music, the employee noted that this can be rather challenging. 

There are firm rules in place over what you can and can't say

It may seem like Dick's unique brand of humor is no holds barred but there are some definite rules in place. CEO Mark Buehler told Restaurant Business Online that humor around race, religion, or gender or strickly off limits.

Former employee Samantha Harthan told Mashed there's no tolerance for racism and they try to refrain from using foul language around families. "They try to say no cursing but we all do a little with the right people, so it's all about reading your guest," she said.

Dick's intense training aims to teach staff how to use their humor and walk the line without causing offence. CEO Mark Buehler told Restaurant Business Online that staff learn how to read their table and anticipate what kind of service will suit them best. He breaks customers down into three categories. The ones that want to engage, the ones who simply want to watch, and those who just want to eat without the comedic service.

It's more important to be funny than mean

The goal of Dick's is always for the customers to enjoy themselves. A former employee revealed to Reddit that staff are often trained on how to gauge a table and figure out how far they can push the boundaries.

"Some people want to play, some want to watch, and some want nothing to do with it," the employee said. "And act accordingly. If you go with a bigger group the jokes tend to get more spread out. The people who speak up/talk smack back are the ones who usually wind up being the butt of jokes, so if you just want to watch and see where your comfort level is at ..."

The employee added that most staff try to not take cheap shots as you don't want someone to feel bad. It's about creating a fun environment for all. That doesn't mean that they don't push the boundaries and accidentally take things too far at times. As for regrets, the former employee told Reddit they once made a rather crude joke to two customers who ended up being siblings.

Sarah Gabrielli explained to her followers on Tik Tok that it's not often you'll get a diner who just wants to be humiliated. "People go there to have fun and very rarely you're gonna meet someone who wants to be totally roasted and destroyed and that's their idea of fun," she said.

You can break character in emergencies

You may think that it's important for the staff to stay in character and not let their mask slip but you'd be wrong. In fact, you can always break character and offer customers a straight service if they request it.

Samantha Harthan explained to Mashed that staff break character all the time. She says some people are simply unaware of the concept when they first come in and it's important to let them know about Dick's unique service so they know what to expect. She revealed that one time she broke character after spotting a family growing emotional at their table but soon realized her comedy was just what they needed.

 "At the end of the meal they tipped the bill and said their mother had always wanted to come here so bad but none of them had wanted to. But she passed away so they decided to come. They told me they had the best time and that I'd made a memory they couldn't make with her. Of course I cried!"

Employees need to come up with the hat insults on the spot and they need to be fun

One of the restaurant's famous gags is the giant paper hats it give out to customers with insults written across them in black marker. Employee Sarah Gabrielli revealed on Tik Tok that the restaurant's training pamphlet offers example insults but it's important to come up with your own for the customers.

A former employee explained on Reddit that they liked to chat up their table and get to know the diners before coming up with insults that would be personalized and tailored to them. They said that they usually like to pick something the customer is wearing or something superficial that won't cut too deep. 

As a popular tourist spot, they added that customers from different countries appreciate hearing things written in their native tongue. And if the table is not giving them a lot of material to work with, the restaurant usually has a list of ready-to-go insults that they can pull out in emergencies.

Celebrities don't get special treatment

The restaurant attracts its fair share of celebrity diners but don't expect the A-listers to get any preferential treatment. Samantha Harthan told Mashed that she once waited on a famous country band who felt a little put out when she failed to recognize them. "At the end of the meal, they asked me if I knew who they were," she says. "I told them, 'What, you think you're special?'" 

After her shift, she headed home and looked up the band online. She quickly discovered that she did indeed know who they were and was even a fan of some of their music. Though Harthan revealed she's since forgotten their name again.

Reality favorite Honey Boo Boo is also a regular with her family, and Harthan said she also waited on the band Tech 9. According to Harthan, the band were surrounded by big buff security guards at their table and by the door. "I just kept doing my thing," she insisted. "Because once I'm in character, I'm in character."

Expect to get hit on ... a lot

You may think that being rude and obnoxious to diners would be the biggest turn-off. But as they say, you gotta treat them mean to keep them keen! And it turns out that the restaurant's brand of humor has diners hot under the collar. "I could have twelve sugar daddies or sugar mommas by now if I wanted to!," Samantha Harthan confessed to Mashed.

She says it's typical for the staff to get handed numbers and large tips by customers who take a liking to them. At Dick's, she's had people ask to take her out on dates and even drawn very rude pictures on their menus for her. Harthan said she once had a family come in whose excitable son couldn't stop slapping her butt. "They were all so cute, I was dying laughing."

And when she was waiting on the band Tech 9, Harthan explained to Mashed that her flirtatious manner even got her on the guest list for their show. "I told them I didn't wanna go backstage and hang out with them, though. I was still very much in character."

The pay is good and tips are surprisingly generous

On Glassdoor, former employees raved about the restaurant's salary packages. In fact, the majority of the reviews said how good the pay was.

Samantha Harthan revealed to Mashed she was once tipped in hundred dollar bills by a customer who took a shine to her. Sarah Gabrielli revealed on Tik Tok that you end up making more cash than regular servers for a bunch of reasons. Firstly, she explained how you can easily sway people into offering a bigger tip under the guise of a joke. Plus, you have a lot more time to charm people. After all, a huge part of the success of Dick's Last Resort is the entertainment that the wait staff provide.

Sarah added, "If they are good tippers and they have a thick wallet, you can make them really wanna give you more money. And lastly, you can handle a lot more tables and have a lot quicker of a turnover because you're able to rush around and yell at people and throw things around, which just makes for a lot faster service."

Most former staff regard it as one of the best jobs they ever had

It's clearly not your average job and for many former Dick's staff, it's one they'll remember for a lifetime. Reviewing their experience on Indeed, one former employee wrote, "A wonderful company to work for and great management. Couldn't ask for a better team! I made so many friends and family working there. It's where I met my ex fiancé."

Another former employee said that Dick's will always hold a special place in their heart, as well as the staff who they worked alongside. "It takes a very particular person to work here," they said. "You need to be witty, entertaining, work well with others, be good at serving, move fast ..., and work [at a] high volume."

Samantha Harthan revealed to Mashed that her job at Dick's is what shaped her to be the person she is today. After spending much of her young adult life there, she insisted she doesn't know where she would be today had it not been for the job. "Making customers laugh and have them tell me I should do stand up comedy would always make my day," she said.

The staff talk in secret codes

The staff at Dick's may be notorious for their sharp wit and brutal put-downs but behind the scenes, they communicate with each other in secret code. 

Whether it's to signal they need a cigarette break or to warn other colleagues that a super religious table isn't really up for anything rude or raunchy. A former employee told Mashed that "I have to go pee" actually means that a staff member is keen to escape for a cigarette. And when you ask someone to "watch my tables," that's actually a subtle way to say you need to use the bathroom. 

"Ankles out" is a creative way to inform staff that you have a table that's religious and therefore won't be amused by the usual comedy routine of Dick's. And if a customer has pushed you to your absolute limit, the former employee added that there's a specific phrase that signals you need to cool off. "Fry time means I'm going to go scream in the walk-in-cooler," they explained.

Staff romances are frowned upon

Workplace romances often feel inevitable. Working so closely with other people can mean friendship turns to flirtation. But even though Dick's may appear to have a relaxed attitude to a lot of things, relationships between staff members are not ideal. A former employee explained to Mashed that colleagues often flirt with one another but are forced to keep their romance on the DL.

"You work in such close quarters with these people, you're all over each other all the time [so] restaurant romances are bound to happen," the employee explained. "Sometimes you keep it a secret and it's [only] discovered when someone walks in on you in the freezer [together]."

The former employee added that romances can risk drama, so bosses aren't always in favor. Of course, even management can sometimes let their feelings get in the way. The former employee says that a trainer once got a little too close to a new hire during a staff night out. After that, their branch banned future nights out and the new hire eventually left ...

Staff work hard, and play harder

Waiting tables is tiring enough, but factor in having to remain in character all night and defend yourself against angry customers, and it's not hard to understand why the staff at Dick's needs to blow off steam.

"Every night was a night out," a former employee told Mashed. They added that at the restaurant working and hard partying often go hand-in-hand due to the long hours and late nights and that a core group of staff would often take their tips and blow them on alcohol.

Another employee on GlassDoor said that the job was solely about having fun. "As long as you are doing your job, everyone is happy!" The same employee added, "Plenty of time to make money and still find time to enjoy activities outside of work and have a drink or two with co-workers after a long but rewarding dinner shift."