Wait No More: A Look at Two South Florida Gay Waiters
South Florida is recognized as a mecca for LGBT people of all ages, from all parts of the world.
Many are just visitors who come to spend their gay gelt in an open and welcoming environment. Many more have transplanted themselves to our sunny, warm, and welcoming climate - particularly in recent years to Broward County where communities like Wilton Manors and Victoria Park and even Fort Lauderdale, have become more than gay-friendly centers of camaraderie, culture, and cuisine for the temporary and permanent LGBT communities alike.
SGFN thought it would be interesting to gently pry into the lives of a couple of local gay waiters and ask what they think about being wait staff in two distinctly different establishments in gay South Florida: Morton’s The Steakhouse in Fort Lauderdale at 500 East Broward Boulevard and Laffing Matterz, an upscale dinner theater at the Broward Center 201 SW 5th Ave, also in Fort Lauderdale.
Adrian Evans, our man at Morton’s, is 30-years-old and a tennis player. In fact, he moved from Cincinnati, Ohio about two years ago to have more sunny days to play tennis. He has been active in the LGBT South Florida Tennis Club since arriving.
He studied psychology at Sinclair in Dayton, Ohio but decided tennis was more interesting and discovered that being a waiter accommodated his tennis schedule.
He worked for Morton’s The Steakhouse in Cincinnati before moving east and was really pleased that he could join the staff in Fort Lauderdale. "The people at Morton’s are really great to work for," said Evans fervently. "They’re very accommodating and they’ve made it feel like a family both here and in Cincinnati."
He also seems genuinely concerned about providing an exceptional dining experience for his clients. "We’re not cheap," he said. "People come here expecting consistently good food and consistent standards of service and that’s what we strive to give them. We get a lot of VIPs and a lot of repeat guests so I guess we’re doing something right."
There are two things that bother Evans on the job, however. One is when he forgets something and the customer’s experience is impacted. The second are the white shirts which are a required part of the uniform. "I tend to be messy so the shirts really look pretty awful by the end of the night," he noted.
"We have a number of gay waiters here and it makes for a nice atmosphere," he said in response to a question. "We also get a lot of gay guests, both visitors and regulars. It can be a lot of fun."
According to its website, Morton’s opened its first restaurant in Chicago in 1978. Today they have over 75 restaurants including six international locations. Their vision has always been "Quality. Consistency. Genuine Hospitality." - just what Evans said in his own words.
Morton’s is famous for its USDA prime-aged beef but they offer lamb, chicken and a wide range of seafood, not to mention appetizers, sides and desserts. They have a "Power Hour" every day in the Bar 1221 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and from 9 p.m. to close with special pricing on select beverages and $5 and $6 "Bar Bites."
The dining room is open Monday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The bar opens at 5 p.m. seven nights a week. For more information visit the website (http://www.mortons.com/fortlauderdale/) or call 954-467-9720.
Over at Laughing Matterz, Richard Cortez is 26 and a singer/songwriter whose life blends perfectly with his job as an actor/waiter. He was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale. He attended The American Musical and Dramatics Academy in New York City and produces his music under his own label, Wollenberg Records.
"First and foremost I’m not really a waiter in the traditional sense," said Cortez who has been composing and performing for many years. "I’m an actor who happens to provide an extra service for my audience by bringing them food and drinks when I’m not performing for them - and sometimes I perform right at their tables."
According to Cortez, patrons pay good money to see the show and they "get a great meal to boot." There’s only one seating per night and he enjoys developing a rapport with his regulars who return every season to see him.
"The clientele get to know you and you get to know them," he continued. "You develop a fan base of people who come to see you and that’s great. Besides, since I’m a stage actor, I get paid just for showing up even if no one comes - which has never happened."
"We get a fair share of gay clients," said Cortez in response to a question. "And we’re pretty gay, too. There are five male and five female waiters and three of us men are gay."
Laffing Matterz is seasonal which gives him half a year to do other things like the summer he toured the country performing at pride festivals. "I booked the performances; did the marketing and arranged travel all on my own but it was a blast," he said.
According to their website, the ticket price at Laffing Matterz includes a house salad, warm sourdough bread with an orange butter and choice of entrée which ranges from medallions of filet mignon to sea bass to a vegetarian special. Chicken, lamb and sea scallops round out the selections. Appetizers are also available for an additional cost and wines are available by the glass or by the bottle.
Formerly located at the historic McCrory Building in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Laffing Matterz offers "live, original, musical comedy revue spoofing current events - including politics, sports, celebrities and pop culture." Customers consistently applaud the show and the meal. Shows are available on Thursday, Friday and Sunday for $65 and Saturday night for $69. Times vary so visit LaffingMatterz.com/ or call 954-462-0222 for more information.