Top 5 Cities Where F&B Pros Shouldn't Detour

Cities F&B'rs might want to avoid

Living a career in F&B  comes with some unique perks

One of them is the unique opportunity to relocate almost anywhere and find work.

Mastering your craft not only establishes you as an invaluable asset to any restaurant but also stands out in an industry where F&B opportunities are increasingly plentiful.

Whether driven by personal circumstances or the desire to broaden your horizons, the prospect of moving to a new city might be on your menu.

However, not all cities offer the same taste of life, particularly for F&B professionals.

My journey through six different cities has revealed stark contrasts in working conditions, from hourly wages to tax regulations, which can sweeten or sour your income and overall living experience.


For example, for front-of-house (FOH) staff, transitioning from a city with outdated tip credit policies to one without can feel like an Economic bonanza, equal to a $14,000 raise.


Conversely, landing in a less favorable city can feel like a major pay cut. So, picking up where my previous feast left off,  The Top 5 Cities for F&B’rs. this is the yang to my yin.   This new list highlights cities you might want to consider steering clear of.

Methodology Summary 

Our analysis began with a selection of 60 cities across the United States, employing a detailed scoring system to identify the least favorable locations for F&B workers. This methodology assessed several key factors critical to the well-being and success of F&B professionals, each weighted according to its impact on the industry. These factors include:

  • Cost of Living
  • Average Hourly Wage for Restaurant Workers
  • State Income Tax
  • Leisure and Entertainment
  • Marijuana Legality
  • Weather
  • Crime Rate
  • Traffic


Welcome to the Thunderdome bitch!


Baltimore Md Web

Baltimore Md | Image by Number 5

5)Baltimore MD

If you’re someone who finds charm in a low-wage high-crime combo meal, then welcome to your utopia!

With its vibrant cultural scenes and the scenic Inner Harbor, Baltimore also offers a unique perk for wage enthusiasts:

the opportunity to work for a minimum cash wage of $3.63 per hour, thanks to Maryland’s tip credit system. Yes, you read that right.

It’s an exciting game of financial roulette, where the tips might just elevate your earnings to the dizzy heights of the standard minimum wage.

Pair this with the city’s rich tapestry of challenges, including a dash of economic disparity and a generous sprinkle of crime, and you’ve got yourself an intriguing mix.

So, for those who like their cities with a bit of edge and are fans of the “more bang for your buck” approach( pun intended), Baltimore could indeed be your dream destination.

Birminham Al

number 4l | Image by Birmingham Al

4)Birmingham AL

Ah, Birmingham, AL, secure 4th place on our list with a distinct allure that’s hard to overlook. For those who relish the more challenging things in life,

think relentless humidity, wages that reminisce about the good old days at $2.13 an hour, and a crime rate that ensures you’re never bored.

Birmingham rolls out the red, although slightly damp, carpet.

It’s a city where the cost of living is so inviting, you quickly understand the trade-offs.

The air here is not just filled with history and culture; it’s also drenched in humidity, which mosquitoes call paradise. Be sure to pack an industrial-sized antiperspirant and perhaps a sense of humor to navigate the daily mosaic of life here.

Clevland Oh

Cleveland Oh | Image by number 3

3) Cleveland, OH

Claiming the #3 spot, Cleveland, OH, offers a unique blend of charm and challenge.

It’s a city where “expect the unexpected” isn’t just advice; it’s a way of life,

especially when it comes to weather that can’t decide on a season, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame stands as a solitary beacon of excitement in a landscape often criticized for its lack of activities.

Yet, Cleveland is not without its quirks. Amidst the backdrop of variable skies, it boasts one of the highest crime rates nationally, adding an unwanted edge to its urban tapestry.

Coupled with Ohio’s $4.65 per hour tip credit wage for food and beverage workers, the economic juggle is real, turning budgeting into an art form.

But even with its climatic capriciousness and economic hurdles, Cleveland has its hidden culinary gems and moments of urban grace.

It’s a city that challenges you to find beauty in its grit, resilience in its community, and opportunity in its unpredictability.

But still …don’t do it!


Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge | Image by Baton Rouge

2)Baton Rouge, LA

Sashaying into our #2 spot is  Baton Rouge, LA, where the air is as thick with humidity as it is with culinary promise.

This city offers a steamy embrace that challenges even the most passionate lovers of Southern charm, serving up an environment where both the weather and the bugs compete for your attention.

In Baton Rouge, the adventure begins with a wage of $2.13 per hour for tipped workers, a number that seems plucked from a bygone era and paired with a crime rate that keeps things interesting. It’s a place where economic thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies might find their paradise.

Yet, amidst the sticky air and lively local fauna, Baton Rouge’s culinary scene shines. The city’s food is a beacon of hope, offering solace with its depth of flavor—from the fiery kick of a good gumbo to the comforting embrace of crawfish étouffée.

Baton Rouge is a test of endurance, wrapped in a vibrant cultural tapestry. It’s where each sultry day is a story of survival and spice. For those drawn to the allure of living where every moment is a blend of challenge and charm, pack your bug spray and your best heat-beating strategies.

Atlanta Skyline Evening Shutterstock 1898843383 (1)

Atlanta Skyline | Image by Number 1

1)Atlanta GA

And now, drumroll, please. receiving the dubious honor of our #1 City for F&B’rs  to avoid   Atlanta, GA, a city that truly encapsulates the essence of Southern hustle, with a twist. Atlanta stands out with its medium-to-high cost of living, ensuring that your wallet feels the burn just as much as you do in the summer heat.

The city greets its workforce with the grand gift of a $2.13 hourly wage for tipped employees, a monetary mirage that makes financial stability as elusive as a cool day in July.

And for those who prefer their green in leafy form, Atlanta maintains a strict “no-go” on marijuana, ensuring that relaxation remains strictly a DIY endeavor.

But oh, the humidity and the bugs—Atlanta’s natural ambiance. Here, mosquitoes aren’t just pests; they’re the unofficial welcoming committee,

ensuring that every outdoor moment is, well, memorable. Coupled with a crime rate that keeps you on your toes and traffic that turns every commute into a test of patience,

Atlanta offers a unique blend of urban excitement and challenge.

Yet, amidst the trials, Atlanta boasts a vibrant culture, a dynamic food scene, and pockets of tranquility within its bustling expanse.

So, for those who see life as a marathon of resilience, where the rewards are measured in experiences and the occasional culinary triumph, Atlanta calls to you.



In the resilient world of food and beverage, we adapt and thrive, no matter the setting. This list, seasoned with a bit of sarcasm, merely scratches the surface.

Each city, for all its challenges, has its unique flavor and opportunities worth exploring.

Remember, it’s crucial to look beyond the jest. Some places genuinely value their F&B staff, offering wages and conditions that respect their hard work.

Yet, the reality of the $2.13 tip credit is a bitter taste in our industry, highlighting the disparity in how workers are valued across different locales.

But let’s not forget, that the spirit of an F&B’rs is unbreakable. We excel, innovate, and make the most out of every situation, proving that it’s not just about where we work, but how we bring our passion and creativity to the table.

Dishonorable Mentions: Little Rock AR, Dallas TX, Phoenix AZ, Philadelphia PA, Nashville TN, Charleston SC, Detroit MI