Chick-fil-A Employees Speak Up About The Strange Rules They Must Follow At All Times

Ever wonder what’s really going on behind a Chick-fil-A employee’s cheerful smile? The popular fast-food restaurant is known for its delectable chicken sandwiches and iconic waffle fries, but Chick-fil-A’s juiciest secrets aren’t on the menu. The people who make the beloved food are finally speaking out about what really goes on in the kitchen — and just how genuine their perpetually-joyful attitudes really are.

“My pleasure!”

Etiquette is important at any fast-food restaurant, but Chick-fil-A takes it to the next level. In response to “Thank you” a Chick-fil-A employee won’t respond with “You’re welcome” — unless they want to get a stern talking-to from their boss, that is. At Chick-fil-A, employees must respond with the formal “My pleasure,” and the reason for this comes from a famous hotel.

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Puttin’ on the Ritz

Legend has it that the founder of Chick-fil-A, Truett Cathy, was staying at a Ritz-Carlton hotel when he came across the polite phrase. He was so enamored with the more-engaged-sounding reply that he instructed his employees to respond to thanks in the same way. “My pleasure” does have a nice ring to it! 

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Visible tattoos: banned

You may love the tribal tattoo you got that one crazy night in college, but Chick-fil-A probably doesn’t — at least, not during business hours. Up until recently, employees weren’t allowed to have visible tattoos showing at work, even if the ink wasn’t noticeable to the customer on the other side of the counter.

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Cover up that ink

Though the tattoo rule has slowly fallen out of favor among many businesses, there are still some Chick-fil-A locations that enforce the ban. In some cases, employees with prominent ink are forced to wear specialty sleeves or other tattoo-covering uniforms so there’s no risk of customers being offended. So it’s safe to say Post Malone won’t work at Chick-fil-A anytime soon. 

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Heavy makeup: banned

And just because you don’t have any prominent tattoos doesn’t mean you’re ready to work at Chick-fil-A. According to the employee handbook, Chick-fil-A team members who wear makeup must do so “in good taste” so that they don’t “distract” the customers. Basically, you may want to hold off on the blue eyeshadow until the end of your shift.

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Colorful hair dye: banned

There are other style choices Chick-fil-A employees must avoid, from excessive perfume or cologne to hair colors that are not “naturally occurring” such as blue or pink. And speaking of hair, Chick-fil-A employees must follow a strict length limit when it comes to their own tresses.

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Men with long hair: banned

For example, if you’re a woman with long hair, you must always wear it in a ponytail. Sounds pretty standard, right? But if you’re a man with long hair, then according to the employee handbook, you’re breaking the rules. You see, men’s locks “must not fall below the midpoint of collar in the back.”

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Beards: banned

Chick-fil-A and the military share some of the same standards when it comes to the way male employees can style their beards and mustaches. According to the Chick-fil-A handbook, a mustache must be trimmed to a maximum length of half an inch; any other facial hair is unacceptable. This is a rule that website Vox claims can cause painful and permanent skin damage to men of color.

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Fake nails: banned

Though many of these rules sound intense, most of them exist so that your food is as clean and well-prepared as possible. Such is the case with another strict rule regarding employee style choices: nails — particularly women’s nails. Acrylic nails are banned among Chick-fil-A employees, and if you work in the food prep area of the restaurant, fingernail polish is banned altogether.

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Nail polish: maybe

So if you enjoy sporting wild, colorful nails, then Chick-fil-A probably isn’t the best place for you to work. As the Hollywood location’s employee handbook states, nail polish must be one solid color, and “worn in good taste.” And if you don’t follow this rule, the fate of your nails — and perhaps even your job — will be up “to the discretion of the manager on duty.” Yikes.

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Waffle fries “well done”

Of course, what the customer probably cares about above all at Chick-fil-A is the food — especially those classic waffle fries. The only thing that beats the warm, salty crunch of a Chick-fil-A waffle fry is a “well done” fry, or a fry dipped not once, but twice into the fryer, resulting in an even more satisfying crunch. If this sounds too delicious to be true, that’s because it is.

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“Well done” fries: banned

Though ordering waffle fries “well done” was thought to be a secret ordering hack back in the day, if you ask for it now, you’ll probably be turned down — albeit politely. According to some Chick-fil-A employees on social media, they have been banned from cooking fries “well done” due to time constraints in the kitchen.

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Deal-breakers for the boss

Life as a Chick-fil-A employee certainly comes with its challenges, and it’s just as stressful for the boss. There are some perks to being a Chick-fil-A franchise owner — it’s a relatively hands-off job, and the franchise fee is just $10,000 — but the downsides to owning a Chick-fil-A restaurant may be deal-breakers for some entrepreneurs.

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Owning more than one fast-food franchise: banned

Chick-fil-A does not allow people to own more than one franchise location. This means that your dreams of being a powerful fast-food magnate are probably in the fryer, at least at Chick-fil-A. And don’t be tempted to simply buy a different fast-food restaurant, either: Chick-fil-A values loyalty, so if you’re a Chick-fil-A franchise owner, you must remain devoted to the brand.

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Why are the employees always so polite?

There’s one employee requirement at Chick-fil-A that probably won’t come as a huge shock. Politeness just may be the restaurant’s second-most-valued commodity next to its chicken sandwiches, and the reason behind it goes deeper than the age-old mantra that “the customer is always right.”

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A bad attitude: banned

Remember Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A? Aside from his reputation as the king of chicken sandwiches, Cathy was also known for his devout Southern Baptist beliefs. He preached the importance of classic family values, politeness among them, which is partly why Chick-fil-A employees serve up burgers with a smile to this day.

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The chef’s secret…

As beloved as Chick-fil-A’s waffle fries are (whether “well done” or not), it’s the classic chicken sandwich that has stood the test of time. But how exactly do Chick-fil-A’s employees nail the deliciously juicy, characteristically crunchy chicken every time? Hint: the secret isn’t actually in the sauce…

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Traditionally-fried chicken: banned

The secret to Chick-fil-A’s dependably delicious chicken has nothing to do with ingredients and everything to do with speed. In Chick-fil-A’s early days, Cathy realized that pressure-cooking chicken takes half as much time as frying it, with most chicken sandwiches being cooked within five minutes.

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Greasy breakfast fare

Just because the classic chicken sandwich was a huge hit doesn’t mean every menu item has made the same impact. In fact, Chick-fil-A has created clunkers just like every other fast-food joint. Chick-fil-A has discontinued menu items that were strange, gross, and downright bizarre, most of which originated on its infamous breakfast menu.

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Square bagels: discontinued

It took the restaurant years to convince people that chicken could be a logical breakfast food, and though its breakfast menu has become pretty well-rounded in recent years, we’ll never forget when Biscuit Cinnamon Rolls and the Cranberry Orange Bagel — a square bagel, to be clear — was on the menu.

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Working on Sunday: banned

Though the menu is always evolving, the same can’t be said for the traditional values upon which Chick-fil-A was founded. For instance, you may have noticed that most locations are open every single day except Sunday. This goes back to Cathy’s religious belief that Sunday is a day of rest. Plus, the father of the brand would dedicate his own seventh-day mornings to teaching at Sunday school.

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Chicken sandwich vs. fish filet

With Cathy’s devout Baptist faith in mind, you may be wondering what the chicken sandwich creator did during Lent: a time of year when Catholics traditionally abstain from eating meat. Well, he had a solution: fish filets! During Lent, select Chick-fil-A locations add fish sandwiches to the menu, though if you agree with the website Mashed, they’re no substitute for the original chicken sandwich.

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Chick-fil-A: banned?

As you may remember, Cathy’s devout Baptist values have landed the chicken chain in hot water on more than one occasion. As ban-happy as Chick-fil-A seems to be when it comes to its employees, the restaurant chain itself has been barred from some places due to its controversial choices.

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Cathy’s controversial statement

In 2012 Cathy sparked controversy in the LGBTQ+ community when he said he believed solely in the “biblical definition of the family unit.” The consternation surrounding this stance only intensified when news broke that his family had donated millions of dollars to anti-LGBTQ+ charities.

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Bad business: impossible?

Though the backlash against Chick-fil-A and the Cathy family was strong, Chick-fil-A’s business wasn’t impacted very much by the bad press. In fact, New York City gained its first Chick-fil-A in the years following the controversies, and by the end of 2018 the chicken chain was on the verge of becoming the third-largest fast-food restaurant in the U.S. Of course, the number two slot was already taken by Starbucks, which was actually hiding a shady practice of its own the whole time.

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The price of rudeness

As it turns out, Starbucks baristas aren’t afraid to speak out about the realities of the job, including how they handle rude customers. One person who claimed they were a server told Reddit, “When you think you’re entitled to anything and complain about a non-issue, you’re getting decaf. And I’m not apologizing about your minor inconvenience.” And as for those “delicious” pastries?

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The pastries aren’t fresh

For some of us, no coffee is complete without a nice pastry dish on the side. The next time you go to Starbucks, though, you might want to hold off on that. Someone claiming to be a former barista took to Reddit in 2015 to say, “All the pastries come [in] frozen and we defrost them. We think they’re overpriced too.”

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Know the sizes

Drink sizes are pretty easy to understand, right? Not in Starbucks, apparently. A barista named Veronica Gallagher made an interesting admission to Travel + Leisure in August 2020. She said, “Many people think a ‘tall’ is the largest size, when really [our largest size] is venti or trenta.” The tall is actually a small, and a medium is called a grande. Got that?

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The black aprons

When you speak with a Starbucks barista behind the counter, you’ll probably notice that they’re donning a green apron. But there are other employees who sport black overalls, too. Why’s that? Well, those individuals are “coffee masters,” and they earn that rank via the company’s program of studies. Essentially, they’re experts in warm beverages!

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‘Kids’ temperature’

Don’t you just hate it when a hot coffee scalds your mouth? It’s horrible! Though fear not: you can actually ask for your beverages at “kids’ temperature” when you visit Starbucks. According to Shareably, a warm cup normally hits figures of over 200 degrees, but the aforementioned request will knock it down to around 140 degrees. Pretty neat, right?

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The holiday cups

Starbucks offers red holiday cups with certain beverages when the festive season rolls around. And it has to be said that they look really cool. But as it turns out, you can’t just pay for the containers outright. According to a thread on the company’s unofficial subreddit, you’ve got to order the drinks. Plus, it’s only one cup per person.

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Try the blonde espresso

If you’re not a big fan of Starbucks’ lattes, Veronica Gallagher made a suggestion to Travel + Leisure. The next time you’re at the counter, ask for a “blonde espresso.” Apparently, this selection is similar to the medium roast on offer in smaller coffee establishments. It’s got to be worth a try, right?

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Don’t fear the ice

Ice machines have garnered a pretty bad reputation in certain restaurants thanks to their cleanliness. Yet someone claiming to be an ex-Starbucks barista said that the coffeehouse doesn’t have this issue. They wrote on Reddit, “I worked for Starbucks for four years and picked up shifts at four or five stores. Every store was very diligent about cleaning the ice machines multiple times a week.”

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Be patient in the line

Lengthy queues are far from ideal for thirsty customers, but the baristas at Starbucks aren’t fans either. So, a server named Natalie McInnis offered up some advice to Travel + Leisure. She said, “Just be patient, we’re friendlier when we’re less stressed out from people wanting things instantly. We all do our best, we don’t want the lines to be there any more than people want to sit in them.”

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Kiosks don’t offer a full menu

When you visit certain shops, you might spot a Starbucks kiosk sitting in the corner. Before you get too excited, though, bear this in mind. Those stands don’t actually offer a complete menu. Unfortunately, that’s led to some heated discussions with the innocent baristas. So don’t get mad!

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Employees hate the fizzy drinks

Did you know that you can buy fizzy beverages at Starbucks? Well, the baristas wish that you couldn’t. One person purporting to be a member of staff informed Reddit, “Please don’t order the berry sangria or any carbonated drinks for that matter. We hate making them, they’re simply the biggest pain to create.”

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Don’t hang around too long

It’s not always easy to find a seat at Starbucks due to the influx of customers throughout the day. But that’s not the only reason. Certain stores don’t actually offer a large number of tables, to begin with. According to Shareably, the company doesn’t want people to hang around for any longer than they need to – it prevents the space from clogging up.

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Prices vary depending on location

If you’ve just arrived from a different state, you might want to double-check the Starbucks menu. As a server told Eat This, Not That!, “The price of drinks is purely based on region. They are mostly standardized throughout the country, but local and state taxes will change the final price of drinks.”Asael Peña / Unsplash

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Don’t mess the staff around

No one likes to be messed around at their job, but it’s especially annoying for Starbucks baristas. An apparent employee cited an example on Reddit – revealing that a certain customer would ask for elaborate beverages and “forget” about them for several hours. From there, they’d request a new cup. It just adds more work, so keep that in mind.

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Don’t get attached to the seasonal drinks

Just like any other menu, the beverages at Starbucks don’t always stay the same. And that’s certainly the case with the annual items. As Veronica Gallagher told Travel + Leisure, “Our seasonal drinks change often, so please do not be upset at us when the promotion ends and we no longer have the product.”

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The steamed-iced coffee

When you order an iced coffee at Starbucks, the mix will be pretty strong. You see, as the ice thaws out, it dilutes the beverage. So if you’re after a drink that retains the heavier blend, tell the barista that you want a “steamed-iced coffee.” Even though you might have to go into a bit more detail, you should still get it in the end.

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Never order Frappuccinos during rush hour

Fancy a Frappuccino at lunchtime? Well, Starbucks baristas would be very appreciative if you held off for a few hours. An alleged former staff member wrote on Reddit, “When I worked at Starbucks on base, I used to hate making Frappuccinos when we were busy. They just take so much time.”

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Let staff leave at the end of their shift

One apparent former employee made an impassioned plea on the unofficial Starbucks subreddit. They said, “If you’re a customer, please don’t ever grab someone [who] is leaving – with their bag on their shoulder and walking out the door – and ask them to open the bathroom for you. Just why?” Let them go home!

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Recipes aren’t the same in every country

If you’ve traveled to different Starbucks stores around the world, you might’ve noticed that the coffee doesn’t have the same flavor. But why is that? Well, someone who said they were a barista on Reddit claimed that the recipes for lattes are different in America and the United Kingdom. Apparently, there’s more espresso in the latter’s drinks.

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Double-check your order

Once you’ve ordered a drink at Starbucks, you’ll probably think that your job is done. You’d be wrong, though. As Veronica Gallagher explained to Travel + Leisure, “I highly suggest having your order read back to you. Especially in a drive-thru that does not have an order screen.” Yep, that should prevent any unfortunate mix-ups!

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Happy birthday

It’s always nice to receive a treat on your birthday, but Starbucks goes the extra mile for their customers. App users and people with a Starbucks Card can apparently claim a beverage or snack on the house to celebrate. The best things in life are free, right?

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You should leave a tip

When you visit a restaurant, it’s standard fare to leave a tip behind for the person who served you. Now the same thing isn’t expected from Starbucks customers, yet it might be an idea to dip into your pockets. The baristas make fairly low salaries that don’t rely on tips. So, if you’ve worked them hard with a large request, an extra bit of money would surely be appreciated.

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Off-menu orders

Custom drinks – or “off-menu orders” – are indeed a thing at Starbucks. But keep this in mind. As a supposed employee explained on Reddit, “It’s not necessarily irritating if you know what the ingredients are. It’s really only frustrating when people come in and say something like, ‘Let me have a Twix Frap!’ and they expect us to know how to do it.”

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The best value for money

Have you ever wondered which item on the Starbucks menu is the best value for money? Well, ponder no more! One person claiming to be a barista told Reddit, “The best drink to get if you want something cheap is iced coffee. You can add any syrup for free and make it taste way better than the lattes.”

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Location is key

Did you know that you can order Starbucks drinks remotely? Just remember one thing: when you’re going through the final stages, be sure that the right store is highlighted. If you don’t, your beverages could be prepared hundreds of miles away. In those instances, Veronica Gallagher told Travel + Leisure that you should keep some proof of purchase so a barista can fix you up.

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Free refills

If you’re a frequent customer, the Starbucks Card and the company app are worth looking into. Why’s that? Well, for the people who are signed up for them, they can claim free coffee and tea refills. It’s only for brewed beverages, though – drinks like lattes don’t count! And the window closes as soon as you walk out the door.

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You don’t need a CV to work there

What do you need if you want to become a barista? To answer that question, one Reddit user made a surprising claim. They said, “Starbucks does not ask for, nor require, a resume or cover letter for barista positions. Your [interviewer] may glance at it as a courtesy, but it is 100 percent not needed nor expected.”

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No law enforcement discount

If you work for a fire department or a police squad, you could be offered some favorable discounts when you go shopping. What about Starbucks, though? As a staffer told Eat This, Not That!, “Discounts for law [enforcement officers] aren’t corporately supported. But many customers and baristas – myself included – will go out of their way to pay for their coffee.”

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The regulars

Are you a Starbucks “regular”? If so, an apparent barista posting on Reddit has some advice for you. They wrote, “I hate when I ask a regular what they want and they either give me a look like, ‘Come on, really?’ or say what they want in a ‘duh’ tone of voice. You have a ‘usual,’ but I don’t know! Sometimes people change their order.”

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Mixing standards

Starbucks iced tea is an ideal thirst-quencher in the summer months – with the layer of foam adding a nice texture to it. Eat This, Not That! noted that it takes roughly ten jerky movements to produce the froth during the mixing stage. But when it’s busy, you’ll be lucky to get more than two.

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Trust the staff

Unsure what to order at Starbucks? Well, a barista named Kenny Delgado revealed that you should never be afraid to ask for an opinion. He told Travel + Leisure, “Talk to us and let us know what you like. We taste every item that comes in and we can hook you up with something delicious, or we’ll fix it until you think it’s delicious.”

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The pumpkin spice

As fall rolls in, people across the country start to crave a bit of pumpkin. But if you’re looking to add some pumpkin spice to your Starbucks drinks, hear us out. According to Shareably, the sprinkling doesn’t harbor any traces of the fruit. Instead, it houses ginger, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Who knew, right?

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Not all the syrups are vegan-friendly

Food and drink menus can be a minefield for vegans, and it doesn’t get any easier at Starbucks. One apparent former barista wrote on Reddit, “Lots of syrups are made with milk and/or honey, so they’re not vegan. This is problematic for customers who pay extra for soy milk because they want to avoid animal products.”

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The ‘puppaccino’

If you own a dog, they could be in line for a very special surprise at Starbucks. By requesting a “puppaccino,” Eat This, Not That! claims that the person behind the counter will spray some whipped cream into an empty container. Now your pet can enjoy something as well while you gulp down your tasty beverage.

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The mood lighting

The lighting in Starbucks shops is certainly… unique. But why’s it like that? According to Eat This, Not That!, the company joined the United States Green Building Council to help the environment nearly two decades ago. As a result of that, the lights were changed to reflect their efforts.

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The menu can be hacked

Someone claiming to be an ex-Starbucks employee offered a crafty hack for those of you looking for a secret deal. They told Reddit, “An iced venti latte is $4, a doppio – two espresso shots – is $1.95, and a cup of ice with two added shots is $1.20. Because you can add as much cold milk as you want from the condiment bar, you can always ask for an iced venti doppio, pay $1.95 then add the milk yourself.”

You can get the jump on holiday drinks

The seasonal beverages at Starbucks are absolutely delicious – so that makes the wait incredibly painful! Then again, if you’re polite to the barista behind the counter, they might prepare one of the drinks a few days before they’re meant to drop. After all, the contents are normally there already. Your friends will be so jealous.

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Staff get massive discounts

It’s always nice if your job offers you a few perks along the way, but Starbucks really pushes the boat out. Eat This, Not That! reported that staff is allowed several free beverages during their shift, as well as a single snack. Meanwhile, they’re also given a 30 percent discount on everything when they’re not working.

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Don’t complain about the music

One particular Reddit user made an impassioned point regarding their Starbucks shifts. They said, “To the customers who complain about the music, please just shut the hell up. You’re in the store for five minutes while we’re there for six, eight maybe ten hours. The music helps us go through our day and actually helps us move fast during peak times.”

chick-fil-a employees speak up about the strange rules they must follow at all times | ever wonder what’s really going on behind a chick-fil-a employee’s cheerful smile? a lot of rules!
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The secret menu

Away from the regular menu, you can order the odd custom drink at Starbucks, but it doesn’t go further than that. One person who said they were a barista on Reddit noted, “Customers really do believe we have a super-secret menu. [And they think we] can make anything comprising a dozen ingredients off the top of our heads during a rush.” Kenny Delgado concurred, adding, “There is no secret menu, we don’t know how to make those drinks.”

chick-fil-a employees speak up about the strange rules they must follow at all times | ever wonder what’s really going on behind a chick-fil-a employee’s cheerful smile? a lot of rules!
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