The Hungry CowboyService and Community in a Neighborhood Restaurant

The Hungry CowboyService and Community in a Neighborhood Restaurant

Karla A. Erickson

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9781604732061

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi

Abstract

At a Tex-Mex restaurant in a Minneapolis suburb, customers send Christmas and Hanukkah cards to the restaurant, bring in home-baked treats for the staff, and attend the annual employee party. One customer even posts in the entryway a sign commemorating the life of his dog. Diners and servers alike use the Hungry Cowboy as a place to gather, celebrate, relax, and even mourn. Moments such as these fascinate the author of this book, who worked for the restaurant. Weaving together narratives from servers, customers, and managers, the book explores a type of service work that is deeply embedded in personal relationships and community. Feelings, play, and emotions are inseparable from the market transactions within the restaurant. Based on extensive interviews and two years of working as a waitress, the book provides insights into the ways that people make contact in our society and how they build on the fleeting connections in the service exchange to form more intimate relationships.