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A Side Order of Romance

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When a Meet Cute is the main course.
"All naive, busty tavern wenches in my realm will be replaced with surly, world-weary waitresses who will provide no unexpected reinforcement and/or romantic subplot for the hero or his sidekick."
Evil Overlord List, Rule #31

In works based around The Team, whether a Work Com or a fantasy action show, sometimes writers want to introduce a romance subplot, but for one reason or another need to find a Love Interest outside of the team. Maybe everyone but the protagonist is in a relationship, maybe you have Chromosome Casting and Incompatible Orientation, or maybe the team dynamic just calls for No Hugging, No Kissing. One of the most common ways around this is to have one of the mains fall in love with a waitress or barmaid.

There are several reasons for this. You can introduce a waitress character without too much explanation or backstory, as fictional characters tend to spend a lot of time in bars and restaurants anyway. Often, visiting a restaurant is the hero's time to unwind from their main job, so the waitress interacts with him as an ordinary civilian, not Bob The Action Hero, giving their relationship a unique dynamic. This often leads to a plot twist later, where our hero must suddenly reveal his quest or Secret Identity to the waitress, who is usually unquestioningly supportive. In these cases, the waitress often provides the team unexpected reinforcement in the eleventh hour.

Plus, waitresses are paid to be charming and are sometimes even scantily clad. The association of food and love doesn't hurt either.

A Sub-Trope of Boy Meets Girl. Related to Coffee Shop AU Fic, where an author puts characters from another work into this scenario. If a character thinks waitresses are categorically attractive, that's Inherently Attractive Profession. Compare/contrast Hospital Hottie - while both are caregivers, a nurse love interest will meet the hero during an After Action Patch Up (if she's not The Medic), giving her a closer relationship to the plot, and those relationships rely heavily on the Florence Nightingale Effect, which is absent here.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In GTO: The Early Years, Ryuji first meets his girlfriend Nagisa at a Fanservice with a Smile cafe where all the waitresses wear thongs. Most of the times they meet after that aren't at the restaurant, though.
  • Interspecies Reviewers has an attempted version with co-protagonist Stunk and the tavern harpy waitress Meidri. Stunk spends many evenings sexually harassing her and asking her to be his girlfriend. She would consider it, but she's too put off by his lecherous behavior and his constant sex adventures.
  • In Space☆Dandy, Dandy loves to visit the Breastaurant BooBies in his downtime between adventures as a space bounty hunter (in fact, he mostly works as bounty hunter to fund his trips there). Honey is a waitress there who at first just seems like a recurring extra, but gradually develops more of a relationship with Dandy, and even shows up to rescue him in one episode.

    Films — Live Action 
  • In Baby Driver, Baby falls in love with a waitress who works at an old-fashioned diner (complete with a 50s-style uniform) that he's visited a few times while on the job as a getaway driver. She doesn't learn about his true career until near the end of the movie, but she is incredibly loyal to him, willing to risk death and imprisonment for him even though she barely knows him. The Ambiguous Ending implies that she waits for him for his whole jail sentence.
  • It Could Happen to You. A married police officer offers to give a waitress at a diner half of the winnings from his lottery ticket as a tip. When his lottery ticket wins, he receives millions of dollars. When he gives her half the winnings, his wife gets annoyed, eventually causing them to get divorced. Over the course of the movie, the cop and the waitress eventually fall in love and get married.
  • Roy/Mr. Furious of Mystery Men has a crush on Monica, a waitress at the restaurant he and his wannabe superhero friends frequent. He tries to impress her by acting "cool" and playing up the superhero angle, but she isn't interested until he begins to drop the bravado.
  • The protagonist of Office Space meets cute waitress Joanna at a nearby restaurant but is too awkward and self-conscious to ask her out. Later on, after re-examining his life, he goes there again with a newfound confidence and asks her out to lunch, and the two become a couple soon afterwards.
  • Phantom Thread: Reynolds meets Alma when she takes his breakfast order and asks her out when she delivers the food. Feeding him remains a major element of their relationship after they become lovers, whether she's mothering him, making romantic gestures, or poisoning him to keep him dependent on her.
  • In Triangle, Greg asks Jess out after meeting her at the diner she works in. It's still too early to tell if they're going to become a couple even if Jess hadn't wound up in that time loop that kills every named character (maybe except her).

  • In Labyrinths of Echo, Max meets his second girlfriend after spontaneously visiting her cafe. It almost immediately turns out that this wasn't as accidental as it seemed, as Lady Tekkhi was already in love with Max before that and deliberately named her cafe after his cats to attract his attention. When he finally graced it with his presence, she then mixed a Love Potion into his drink — it didn't work on him (as intended, at least), but he became enamored with her, anyway.
  • The Mark and the Void:
    • Exploited by Paul, who notes the propensity of men to fall in love with their waitresses and creates a business venture, myhotswaitress.comnote , that monetizes the trope by stalking waitresses then selling their personal info to male admirers.
    • Claude, the protagonist, mostly interacts with his work colleagues and Paul (his Stalker Without a Crush), but he falls in love with Ariadne, a waitress at the restaurant he frequents on workdays. Once she finds out about his work as a banker, she loses a lot of respect for him, and his love for her helps push him to betray his employers near the climax of the book.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ghost Whisperer: In Dead to Rights, the Woobie of the Weekís wife is accused of being a Gold Digger by his rich and famous family because she was his diner waitress when they met. It didnít help suspicion that they got married fast, and that he fell into a coma shortly after she took him to an alternative medicine clinic to treat his ALS. Even worse, she wanted to pull the plug on him, which only worsened her image and seemed to confirm ulterior motives. It turns out, they got married fast because they knew their time was limited because of his disease. Whatís more, his coma wasnít her fault at all. His mother gave him muscle relaxant pills during a seizure, not knowing the doctors had taken him off that certain brand. They interacted with his anti-depressants and sent him into a coma. Turns out, the ghost really did want them to pull the plug, and his wife knew it because he told her himself.
  • Gender Flipped on Gilmore Girls, where Lorelai's main Love Interest is Luke, a guy who runs and operates his own diner, primarily as a server. It's not as straightforward as some of the other examples, because while this is how they met, the series starts several years later when they already have an established friendship and plenty of interaction outside the diner.
  • Highlander has Methos falling for Alexa, a waitress at Joe's bar. He's geeky and awkward and flustered, despite having thousands of years of experience. After she's turned him down, she asks why he wants to go out with her, and his answer, "Because the alternative is unthinkable," convinces her to accept his invitation after all. It turns out Alexa is terminally ill, but it doesn't deter him. When he tells her he can handle what's coming, she asks why he would want to, which gets her the same answer.
  • Maniac (2018): In the scenario where he is incarnated as a conflicted mobster, Owen imagines his college friend Olivia as a Girl Next Door-type waitress with whom he eventually runs away with.
  • In Scorpion, Paige is working as waitress when she first encounters the team of misfit geniuses and gets dragged into an adventure with them. The team keeps her on as office manager for the team, and she helps to 'translate' the real world for them, helping them interact with the people they meet. In turn, the team helps her understand her genius son, Ralph. Her being a waitress in a diner establishes her as a far more down-to-earth character than everyone else, and she gradually becomes the Love Interest for main protagonist Walter O'Brien.
  • Seinfeld: Subverted. In the episode "The Soup", George flirts with a Monk's waitress, Kelly, and both playfully banter with each other. At Jerry's goading, George takes Kelly out for a walk. He mentions how he likes the word "manure", which wrecks his chances with Kelly as she makes a casual mention she has a boyfriend. The next time they meet, the banter is replaced with a cold and distant formality, which makes George too uncomfortable to enter Monk's. He attempts to get her fired, but that backfires when George gets banned from the restaurant.
  • In Star Trek: Enterprise, when Trip and Malcolm were younger, they both frequented a restaurant where a waitress named Ruby worked. Both had crushes on Ruby and Trip even wanted to marry her, and it's implied that both of them slept with her at some point.
  • Played with in the Supernatural Season 3 Episode "Bad Day at Black Rock" when the Winchester brothers meet a comely waitress with a Louise Brooks bob. It turns out she's a thief, and she steals a valuable cursed rabbit's from Sam. The "waitress," Bela, turns out to be a master thief with plentiful Ship Tease with both brothers.
  • Played for laughs in Titus episode "The Break-Up". Christopher and Erin decide to break up and they both have a fling with a waitress and waiter, respectively. Complete with porn-ified Imagine Spot.
  • Near the end of season 2 of Twin Peaks, Chief Inspector Gordon Cole visits the Double R diner on a break from his work on the investigation. Midway through the meal, he spots Shelley, a waitress, instantly declares himself in love with her, and even gets her to kiss him. It doesn't go further than that, as Shelley already has a boyfriend, who's none too pleased to catch her kissing a much older man in public.

  • In the Confession Executive Committee series, Koudai Yamamoto works part-time as a waiter, and one of his underclassmen, Juri Hattori (who doesn't recognize him as her schoolmate) often comes to visit the cafe he works at to vent about her stress, and they eventually start dating. Their respective POVs of the relationship are highlighted in "The Junior that Resembles The Person I Liked" and "I Was Told That I Was Cute".
  • "Travelin' Soldier" by the Dixie Chicks is about an 18-year-old soldier meeting and falling in love with a young cafe waitress right before he's shipped off to fight in the Vietnam War.
  • Played for Laughs in the Alan Jackson song "I Don't Even Know Your Name." The singer becomes infatuated with a waitress at the restaurant he's in. She's not his waitress, and when he tries to flag her down for coffee, he loses his nerve. So he orders a little Liquid Courage, but overdoes it and ends up drunk. He asks to her marry him, and she accepts. He sobers up in the middle of the wedding ceremony, only to find out he's marrying his waitress, who was "missing her front tooth."
  • In Reba McEntire's "Somebody," a patron makes small talk with his waitress about his love life. She tells him the person he's looking for could be literally anyone, and he should pay attention. At the end of the song, he realizes the "somebody" he's been waiting for is...her.
  • Implied in Landon Pigg's "Falling in Love in a Coffee Shop."

    Video Games 
  • In Cafe Enchante, Kotone inherits her late grandfather's café and she can romance any of the regulars who happen to consist of a demon, a fallen angel, a flame-wielding werewolf, a headless knight, and a government official.
  • In Life Is Strange, this is implied to be the case between Chloe's mum Joyce and her step-father David. They met while Joyce was working at the Two-Whales Diner, and in the sequel, if Joyce was killed in the storm (because the player picked the "Sacrifice Arcadia Bay" ending of the first game), David will have the receipt from the day they met (the use of which as a password also foreshadowed his appearance) framed.
  • In Lily's Garden, Phillip Jones met his late wife while she was working in a restaurant in New Orleans. He happened to be visiting the city for work and ended up staying a week in order to keep seeing her.
  • Story of Seasons has a range of waitresses as potential love interests. One example is Maya from Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility and Harvest Moon: Animal Parade, a Lethal Chef waitress who wishes to be a Supreme Chef someday.
  • In Uncharted Waters: New Horizons, various waitresses around the world's inns can be wooed by any protagonist (except Catalina) in a sort of a proto-Romance Sidequest.

  • The Order of the Stick. This is the backstory of how Elan's parents met. He was a globe-trotting adventurer, she was a pure-hearted tavern maid, and they fell in love. Unfortunately, he was also an aspiring Evil Overlord, so they divorced soon after Elan was born.
  • Questionable Content: Angus became a regular at Coffee of Doom mainly because he liked Faye's Tsundere attitude and Witty Banter with him. They eventually started going out, until he moved away to New York and they broke up.

    Web Original 
  • Discussed by the Evil Overlord List:
    31. All naive, busty tavern wenches in my realm will be replaced with surly, world-weary waitresses who will provide no unexpected reinforcement and/or romantic subplot for the hero or his sidekick.

    Western Animation