For a different perspective on Brooklyn restaurants, we're starting a series of interviews with artists (musicians or otherwise) who pay the bills by working in the food industry. Our first subject, Mike Campbell, gives us some insight on tipping delivery people. (Yes, you've probably been cheaping out.) He also plays bass with Laura Stevenson and the Cans and has been taking a hiatus from restaurant work since the band’s recent release, “Sit Resist.”
The L: Where in Brooklyn do you live, how long have you been here, and where are you from originally?
Mike Campbell: I basically spend half of the year on tour, and the other half is spent in a seemingly endless series of sublets. I've lived in Clinton Hill, Williamsburg, Prospect Heights, Fort Greene, and Crown Heights. I am currently in the midst of a temporary house/cat-sitting situation on Long Island, but I've lived in Brooklyn off and on for the past 6 years.
The L: Can you tell us about your career as a musician?
Campbell: I've been a touring musician for roughly ten years. I played guitar in a punk band called Latterman in the early and mid 2000s, and I’ve been playing bass with Laura Stevenson and The Cans since 2008. Latterman just reunited this past December, and we did four sold-out New York area shows, including appearances at Music Hall Of Williamsburg and the Bell House.
The L: How about your restaurant career?
Campbell: Since the age of 18, I have worked as a waiter, busboy, delivery driver, delivery biker, night porter, host, phone person, and dishwasher. I've worked at Motorino in Williamsburg (the absolute worst job of my life, restaurant or otherwise), Egg in Williamsburg, Landmarc in Tribeca, and a bunch more. I've always used restaurant work as a supplement to my income while pursuing music, but I haven't had to work in a restaurant for almost six months. I am very thankful for this.
The L: Since you’ve got delivery guy experience, what should we be tipping our delivery people?
Campbell: You should tip a deliver person the same you would a waiter (which should be 20%). Think about it this way: a waiter brings food to your table, but a delivery person brings it TO YOUR HOUSE. In the winter, a waiter stays warm. In the rain, a waiter stays dry. The delivery person braves the elements, so you don't have to. Tip accordingly!
The L: How do you balance restaurant jobs with touring?
Campbell: I’d stretch the limits of what management would allow, as far as taking time off. For shorter tours I would try to have someone cover my shifts while I was gone. But for month-long (or longer) tours, I would have to ask if they could hold my job for me. If I would have to quit, I would quit. Luckily there's no shortage of available restaurant work in New York City.
The L: What’s your favorite thing to cook at home?
Campbell: I'm only really good at cooking breakfast. I do a lot of omelets. I can also cook turkey sandwiches and bowls of cereal.
The L: Do you cook at all when you’re on the road with a band?
Campbell: Sometimes we cook pasta, but we don't have frequent access to a kitchen. On one tour a few years ago, we lived exclusively on Cup-O-Noodles spiked with stolen hot sauce from Chipotle, and boiling water from gas stations for about 3 weeks. We all got kind of sick from that. So much MSG!
The L: Do you have a favorite place to eat when you’re on tour?
Campbell: The Triple Rock in Minneapolis has amaaaazing, artery-clogging food. Any taco stand or burrito place in southern California is awesome too.
Photo by Joelle Andres