When it comes to finding jobs in the restaurant industry, the grass is always greener in the next city over. However, the places you think of as restaurant meccas may not be the ones you want to pack up and move to.

We’ve compiled a list of cities that we think are the best places for various career paths, factoring in the local restaurant scene, job market, rent, regional economy, state minimum wage for tipped workers, and the average resident’s spending habits. The results included some unexpected winners…

Best city for Servers: Seattle, WA.

Minimum wage for tipped workers in Washington is a staggering $9.47. That’s more than you would earn in California or New York, and, unlike both cities, in Seattle you might find a decent apartment for under $1000 a month! Seattle also has a vibrant restaurant and bar scene; it’s famous for its seafood, but every kind of cuisine is represented.

Best city for Bartenders: Las Vegas, NV.

This one is probably less of a surprise. Minimum wage in Nevada is above average – $7.25 for those who claim health benefits, $8.25 for those who don’t- and in the tourist haven of Las Vegas, you can expect generous tips.

The median amount a Bartender takes home $22 an hour in Sin City.

That goes pretty far in a town where a fair-sized one-bedroom apartment might cost $700 a month. Between its thriving bar scene and its famous casinos, Las Vegas always needs Bartenders, so landing a job, at least, isn’t much of a gamble.

Best city for Cooks and Chefs: Boston, MA.

Minimum wage is only $3.00 in Massachusetts, but the job market favors Chefs and Cooks in the foodie hub of Boston. The median cook can expect to take home $14.40 an hour. In Boston, as in most cities, Cooks make less than a dollar an hour in tips.

Boston’s rent, more than that of most cities, varies wildly by neighborhood, but generally stays under $1000 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Best city to find your first restaurant job: Austin, TX.

It’s true that Texas’ minimum wage is a measly $2.80. However, with unemployment at 3%, Austin’s job market couldn’t be much tighter, driving wages up along with beginning workers’ prospects.

In fact, Austin’s restaurant industry is the fastest-growing in the city.

The city is known for Tex-Mex and southern barbecue, but fine dining and international cuisines are on the rise. Best of all, rent is fairly low, usually around $800 or $900 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Best city to start a restaurant: Buffalo, NY.

If you’ve never been to Buffalo, you might picture it as a crumbling ex-factory town under several feet of snow. You would be right about the snow, but in recent years the former shipping hub has been going through an economic boom, beginning with its restaurants.

One in seventeen Buffalonians works in a restaurant and the city boasts no fewer than five farmers markets, but wages and property values are still relatively low. So if you want the lowest possible starting cost with the largest possible clientele, perhaps you want to learn to make beef on weck.




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