Red Tapas in Palm Beach Gardens: Where Server Dress Code Includes a Specific Shade of Lipstick and Servers Work From iPods

Red Tapas general manager Melissa Hartman.
Discover. Taste. Share. These are the words chosen by Red Tapas Bar and Grille to embody what a trip to the new Palm Beach Gardens restaurant is all about.

Red Tapas is the latest dining concept from the owners of nearby Cabo Flats, a popular Mexican cantina and tequila bar located at Downtown at the Gardens. The idea behind Red, however, was to offer something unlike anything else in the area.

With its bright-red interior décor (think a South Beach vibe) and well-stocked menu (a world view of tapas that goes beyond the traditional Spanish offerings to include American and Asian-themed dishes), general manager Melissa Hartman said every detail at Red Tapas has a lot of thought behind it.

From the red leather décor on the banquettes to the red-lit bar -- even the Mac "Viva Glam" red lipstick that female servers all wear -- has meaning. "It's just a sexy color, and it makes a statement," Hartman told Clean Plate Charlie recently. That includes a giant pair of red lips custom-painted by local artist Lauren VanArman, the restaurant's focal piece hanging on the back wall beyond the bar.

The business operation runs off a completely wireless system, with both servers and bartenders sending orders to the kitchen via Apple iPods, while central station "hubs" are nothing more than iPads. The Wi-Fi is available to everyone at Red (password required, of course), but the mobility is meant to make for a unique experience, Hartman says.

Another thing you'll definitely notice: no plate descriptions on the menu, an intentional move by Hartman, who wants patrons and servers to interact as much as possible. "I want the experience to be very engaged. We hand-picked and trained our servers to know every dish in detail, every cocktail, every glass of wine so they can help patrons navigate their evenings' selections."

Operations aside, if you like small plates, Red has plenty of them to choose from. The menu covers Spanish, Greek, Italian, and Asian-themed dishes, most affordably priced between $4 and $10. The menu is organized similarly to how you'd read a high-end wine list: lighter options at the top, with bolder, more intense offerings as you make your way down.

Location Info

Red Tapas Bar and Grille

11701 Lake Victoria Gardens, Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Category: Restaurant

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@CleanPlateBPB If its part of the uniform, wear it! Uniform is different than dress code.

Clean Plate Charlie
Clean Plate Charlie

I agree, and it could be a cool visual to look at with everyone uniformed down to the makeup. But what if you have a different complexion and that shade looks weird on you? You couldn't get a job there! Definitely an interesting debate.

Allison Little Cosens
Allison Little Cosens

I agree with Michelle. They're obviously paying a lot of attention to detail and I hope it works out for them.


@CleanPlateBPB Thanks for the mention!

Michelle Cavanaugh Donn
Michelle Cavanaugh Donn

While this might be extreme, I think a lot if time the appearance and attitude of a server can make or break a restaurant experience. So am totally cool with this plan...the devil is in the details. Let's hope they spend as much effort it hiring and training top notch staff as picking a lipstick.

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