No matter what your queer status is or whatever, if you’re a woman in the restaurant industry or any industry, at some point you’re going to be infantilized or sexualized. Or both, which is really scary. I’ve dealt with being treated a certain way because I’m a woman, and people don’t always get my gender identity. Like yeah, I’m a dyke. I don’t know if you can say that but that’s what I call myself.
I started working in coffee in 2008. My boss owned a coffee shop with a bar attached to it, so I started drinking nice whiskeys and got hooked on Manhattans. I moved to L.A. and tried out more bars, and I loved all the ritualism and tools involved. The first time I made drinks was at a party back in New York—the bar was set up on an ironing board.
The constellation of businesses that support restaurants themselves is much more traditional than actual restaurants in the city. So dealing with reps and suppliers, sometimes they feel super, super square and don’t always get it. You can’t spend your whole working life trying to explain to people who you are, so that’s why it’s really important to choose when you take a beat and talk to someone that you work with because they said something that didn’t sit well with you.
There’s no handbook on these things, and here’s a temptation these days for people to be like “No, no, no, I get it.” We use so much shorthand, and see so much from our specific view of the world through our phones and through our computers, and I just think that sometimes people don’t want more conversation [about queerness] but we’re not going to stop having it. We can’t stop having it if we want to improve things for future generations.