The salad bar is the worst kind of bar.
How did they even get “bar” status in the first place? They have nothing in common with all the other “bars” out there. Most bars serve hard liquor and beer. Wine bars pour wine by the glass. Cocktail bars have hunky actors behind the counter spinning drink shakers, tossing bottles in the air, and groovy Caribbean theme songs. Sounds fun! Salad bars have wilted lettuce, stale croutons, and slime-covered sneeze-guards. Total Debbie Downer!
But what of the clientele? Is that where the similarities begin? Let’s investigate. Lots of “normal” bars attract a vibrant singles scene, where men and women of all types can meet someone they might consider dating or even sexting. The only things attracted to a salad bar are flies, maggots, and the occasional vegan. No one goes to a salad bar to flirt or find romance. You might find a hair in the olives or a booger on the sunflower seed scoop, but no love connection. Clearly, salad bars don’t appeal to the same crowd.
I’ve also noticed that the service is different at a salad bar compared to other bars. Most bars have a bartender, a knowledgable person who can prepare, serve, and effortlessly conduct the monetary transaction for your drink of choice. They are often personable and try to make your experience in their establishment as enjoyable as possible. At a salad bar, things are almost the opposite. No one greets you when you walk in the salad bar. No one knows your name.
From there, it is up to you to find the teetering stack of industrial-grade plates, pick the least dirty one out of the top three, and then belly up to the salad bar to serve yourself. Joy! But remember, you only have a few minutes to fill your plate with all that germ-infested goodness because the plate itself weighs close to 15 pounds and your untoned arm muscles will give out shortly. Once you’ve fingered every fruit and touched every tong, your plate is piled high and you sit down at your table. No waitstaff will ever come refill your water. No busser will ever clear your plate. In fact, if you are still hungry after that first trip, you take your dirty plate back to the salad bar and reinfect it with all your newfound fungi. The circle of life! When it comes time to settle up, you have to track down the one employee who knows how to use the cash register and regurgitate your order to them before you go outside and regurgitate the contents of your stomach. There are no winners at the salad bar. Only losers.
But maybe I’ve got this all wrong. What if we look toward the some other types of “bars” to better understand the salad bar? Dive bars are just a subset of the traditional alcohol-serving bar just with dirtier bathrooms and older, uglier customers. So I guess salad bars have a bit in common with them. Tapas bars serve food and no matter how much you eat you always leave hungry, so salad bars are similar in those ways. Cigar bars smell like rotting flesh inside so there is that. Is it conceivable the salad bar is included in the pantheon of bars for these coincidences?
After this exhaustive inquiry, my original thesis stands. The salad bar is the worst kind of bar. Don’t you agree?
Also published on Medium.