Jon Hamm: ‘Working in a restaurant is a good life lesson’

2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards - Arrivals

The only actor I still left on my “gimme list,” Jon Hamm, recently discussed his many pre-stardom jobs with Wealthsimple. (I know many of you are not fans, but I can’t help it.) The 46-year-old actor started working, like many of us did, by doing household chores. As a teenager, he worked at a restaurant on his hometown of St. Louis and said the experience was more than just a paycheck. He calls it genuinely character building.

Working in a restaurant is a good life lesson for anybody. My friend used to say that no one should be able to work in Hollywood if they haven’t worked in a restaurant. The appreciation you have for anyone working in a service capacity goes up radically the longer you work a service job yourself — you quickly learn what a difference a little bit of kindness and common courtesy can make for people. It’s important to know how to treat people, and to learn how to respond when someone you’re working with is having a bad day. Understanding other people’s problems—that’s the cornerstone of the service industry, and it’s essential as an actor, or whatever field you’re in.

[From Wealthsimple]

I have to agree with Jon here. When I graduated with a theater degree from FSU (go ‘Noles!), my first job was working at a TGIFridays while waiting for my theatrical dreams to come true. I think it’s a rite of passage of sorts for every aspiring actor. Think about it, you deal with so many different kind of people that it gives you lots to draw from to craft a character.

Not only did Jon enjoy working at a restaurant, he also likes frequenting them. He was spotted at some of Atlanta’s best eateries when he was here filming the upcoming Baby Driver – not like I was stalking him or anything. Kidding. Or am I? This past week he visited his favorite LA restaurant, Little Dom’s, on not one but two separate occasions. With my restaurant experience (and eating experience), I should probably have an Emmy by now as well.

Jon Hamm Out For Lunch In Los Feliz

Jon Hamm Out And About In Los Angeles

Sony Presentation at Cinema Con 2017

32nd Independent Spirit Awards - Arrivals

Photos:, Fame Flynet

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26 Responses to “Jon Hamm: ‘Working in a restaurant is a good life lesson’”

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  1. Nancy says:

    Would he consider a kitchen (with two kids and a husband and dog) a restaurant? Sure feels that way on weekends.

  2. Esmom says:

    I feel fortunate that I’ve never worked at a restaurant, it seems like a really tough way to make a living. Kudos to all who do it! I agree that it’s a great way to learn skills that go way beyond the food service industry.

    Switching topics, so I guess Hamm is still single?

    • SilverUnicorn says:

      Thanks from someone who made the choice of working in a kitchen as a job and not just waiting to become something else!

      It is hard work but I will never regret those years spent in a restaurant/hotel kitchen.

  3. Miss Jupitero says:

    I was a terrible waitress. My hat is off to anyone who does this for a living. I overtop to this day for exactly this reason.

    • MsGoblin says:

      I worked in a restaurant between semesters in college and I, too, tip SO MUCH more generously because of it.

  4. third ginger says:

    Off topic somewhat: BABY driver is supposed to be interesting. However, I keep wondering why this talented actor is having trouble getting really good roles

    • Nik says:

      It got great reviews out of SXSW.

      As for his career, he’s a handsome and talented white male with some fame, his career should be going better than it is.

      It could be because people still see him as Don Draper that he doesn’t get many offered roles outside of that and is passing on any character that feels too Don-like. I’ve noticed Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul have had lackluster post-Breaking Bad careers too.

      • third ginger says:

        Cranston can always rely on Broadway, movies not so much. It’s the proverbial double edged sword:playing an unforgettable character.

  5. Jess says:

    I agree, great way to build character and learn how to read and deal with other people. Man, he looks so damn good in that gray suit.

  6. littlemissnaughty says:

    He speaks the truth. It was the best and worst four years of my life (hotel, not restaurant). Man, the people you learn to deal with. The hours. The money. The money was terrible. Just awful. But I learned SO much. I can’t even begin to describe how it builds character and makes you appreciate everything that comes after. I can usually tell if someone has worked a crappy job for little money. Most of us have worked crappy jobs but I know a shocking amount of people who have never been paid a crappy wage. It shows.

    • ell says:

      ‘ I know a shocking amount of people who have never been paid a crappy wage. It shows.’

      this! so true. it does show, and not in a good way.

      • littlemissnaughty says:

        I should probably add that I don’t support crappy wages. But they’re a reality. And if you’ve gone through university without ever working a crap job (or a job in general), you’re most likely spoiled and don’t value money the same way others do.

  7. Barrett says:

    Agree from experience myself! Made me appreciate my degree and office job. It was quite the hustle! And you reeked of bad smelly food w ridiculously aching legs!

  8. L84Tea says:

    I was a hostess for three years, and even that role was enough for me to see how easily people forget all about good manners the second they walk into a restaurant. I wish everybody could work just one night in a busy restaurant, particularly a Friday or Saturday night, to see how hard it actually can be and how utterly rude some people are. To this day I always try to be patient and friendly when dining out because I can never unsee what I learned as an early 20 something.

  9. Sam says:

    I totally agree. I worked in the hospitality industry for about 10 years and it definitely builds character. I now work with doctors in training and I always say to them that what i learned from those years is that everyone you encounter is a customer. And they deserve good service, as well as being treated like a human being. I think this is a really important mindset in any situation where you are dealing with people.

  10. Lala says:

    You can always tell who has worked a crap service job when they interact with people still working in them. I had just about every job possible (waitress, drive thru worker, retail salesperson) from age 16 until I graduated college. I was appalled at how some people treat others and now always make a point to be extra polite and understanding to service workers.

    I also agree with his point that everyone should wait tables. I always said everyone should be required to for a month. Not only does it give you an appreciation for how hard these jobs are it also could help anyone in any field. My current career involves dealing with clients and my boss always compliments my ability to work with them. I credit much of it to my former jobs teaching me that everyone needs to be treated with basic decency and respect. It also taught me how to deal with assholes in a professional manner 😉

    • lisa says:

      all of this

      plus i also think these type of jobs can give people a sense of urgency when they are doing other types of jobs later on

  11. crazydaisy says:

    Will someone please give this man a new hit series? Miss him so much.

    • third ginger says:

      See comments above. Yes, he was sensational as Don Draper, one of the most complex characters I have ever seen on TV.

  12. Tiffany says:

    He has such an awesome vocabulary. Then I remember that he use to be a teacher as well.

  13. Molly says:

    He’s absolutely right. I have no patience for people who are dismissive and rude to people in the service industry.

  14. Artemis says:

    I didn’t wait tables but I did work in kitchens (in homeless hostels) and I was a cleaner during my uni years (and a carer at one very short-lived point). I could deal with the ridiculously low wages, if you’re single and studying, you manage to survive on very little but it was the treatment of disrespectful customers/clients, overly authoritative colleagues (who were miserable and abused their one inkling of power they had) and corrupt charities that did my head in. It does build character but at what cost sometimes?

    When I graduated, I thought I could finally have some ‘power’ of my own to do good in the world and while that’s working out to some extent, I kind of wished I had a job where I could walk puppies or be creative and silly because this society is damn sad and selfish no matter at what end you’re standing and some lightness is very much needed. It’s probably part of growing up but it’s making me rethink every life choice I made and want to make so I don’t end up bitter and without hope. All the experiences actually made me less nice because I deal with enough crap at work, I don’t need some random stranger testing my last nerve in my personal/private life. That said, in my worklife I try to be as sugary sweet as possible when dealing with difficult people because it disarms them and they know they’re acting like a-holes then with nobody to blame.

  15. Sarah says:

    I put myself through college waitressing and I always loved it. Fast-paced, kind of your own boss, people come and go quickly, very social job with fun co-workers. It isnt easy, though.
    Now a teacher, my students read an essay in which the woman takes every prospective hire to a restaurant to see how he/she treats the waitress. If they are rude or condescending, they dont get hired.

  16. Linds says:

    It’s sad that we feel that someone has to work a service job to understand how to treat people kindly and with respect (you should do this regardless), but I agree. It does humble you. I’m already a nice person but I definitely believe working in customer service has made me a much more PATIENT and understanding person lol.

  17. Tig says:

    Absolutely agree! It was such an eye opening experience for me back in the day. Really reinforces the Golden Rule- do unto others,etc. And even then learn to deal with the folks who DON’T follow it.
    Not only do I tip pretty well to this day, but it really aggravates me to see folks being rude/dismissive to counter help at fast food places and/or coffee places. All work is worthy of respect, regardless of pay scale.