Before the dinner rush or at the tail end of a long evening, restaurant staff sometimes take a beat and share a meal. These dishes often creatively use spare ingredients to make everything from quick bites to elaborate dishes—and occasionally rival what diners find on the menu. Whether every day or once a month, this is one restaurant ritual that can inspire us all.


Rocca (Tampa, Florida)

Staff meal is held every day at 4 p.m. at this Michelin-starred Italian restaurant, which has a shelf in the walk-in cooler labeled for family meal. “A typical family meal will be something like chili cheese dogs and French fries, Cuban-style rice and beans, and usually a fresh salad so it’s not so heavy,” says chef and partner Bryce Bonsack. “And a lot of pasta.” The team shares a meal and goes over preservice notes. Bonsack says, “It’s something that we will always be doing at our restaurant.”

Catch (Wilmington, North Carolina)

When it comes to showing appreciation for the team, “staff meals say so much,” says Keith Rhodes, the James Beard Award-semifinalist chef at Catch. The seafood-focused restaurant serves these meals at least three nights a week, usually after dinner service. “At the end of the night, everyone’s hungry,” says Rhodes. “We get to recap the night and unwind.” The dishes are a “global mix,” including everything from Bahamian-stewed fish and grits to Brazilian feijoada with black beans to buttermilk fried chicken.

FOODE (Fredericksburg, Virginia)

FOODE, pronounced “foodie,” is a farm-to-table American restaurant helmed by James Beard Award-semifinalist chef Joy Crump and founding partner Beth Black. “Family meals at FOODE look a lot like family meals at home,” says Black. The meals are held at least a few times a month before service starts. It’s a chance for team members to “take a break, connect, and satiate their bodies, minds, and souls. We want them to relax and feel valued.”

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