Wendy Gruntz | Southern Foodways Alliance arrow left envelope headphones search facebook instagram twitter flickr menu rss play circle itunes calendar

Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to annemarie@southernfoodways.org.

< Back to Oral History project: Career Servers


Wendy Gruntz

Wendy Gruntz, born in 1971, grew up in Algiers Point, just a ferry ride away from the attractions of the French Quarter. Gruntz did not plan on beginning a career as a server when she graduated from Dominican High School in 1989; it was a path that found her. She started her career as a server at a Shoney’s in the working-class suburb of Chalmette. It was easy to make money back then if you put a little hustle into it, she remembered, even at the Shoney’s price point where she might take care of as many as twelve tables at any given time.

Gruntz left Shoney’s in 1993 to work at Outback Steakhouse, an experience that she characterized as less than ideal, with management techniques that diminished the value of the individual server. When she came to Pascal’s Manale in 1995, she knew that she had found a home. A steady and friendly clientele, a management plan that respects the servers, and a reliable kitchen all contribute to equanimity in the front of the house.

Date of interview:

Justin Nystrom

L. Kasimu Harris

Download Transcript

Other Project Interviews



The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


Alex Raij Txikito

Let’s Stay in Touch

Sign up for the SFA newsletter to have the latest content
delivered directly to your inbox.