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Stephanie Danler

Stephanie Danler looking at the camera

Author
Role at Union Square Cafe: Backwaiter

Before becoming a celebrated novelist, memoirist, and screenwriter, author Stephanie Danler spent “1.5 glorious years” as a backwaiter at Union Square Cafe, an experience that would inspire her international bestseller, Sweetbitter, which she would also transform into a TV series with Starz. Earlier this year, Stephanie released her acclaimed memoir, Stray. Here are Stephanie’s musings on her time at Union Square Cafe: 

Favorite Union Square Cafe memory? “I had been working at Union Square Cafe for about six months and it was my 23rd birthday. I used my first voucher and took my sister to dinner there. We got all dressed up, and it was my first time experiencing the restaurant as a guest. I couldn’t believe how magical that room was, how lucky I was to work there, or even to be in NYC. It was snowing outside. I felt like I had arrived at my adulthood.”

Most important thing you learned at Union Square Cafe? “The excellence reflex. How to connect with strangers. How to manage fifteen different emergencies while smiling and moving gracefully. Those skills helped me speak to large crowds, produce a television show. It was my most essential education.”

What do you love most about Union Square Cafe? “Sitting at the bar for shift drinks with my co-workers at the end of a long night. The adrenaline wearing off. The intimacy. I miss it. Also the snap pea salad. Dreamy.”