Model-Waitress Courtney Yates of Coffee Shop Gets $250 Tips From Taye Diggs

Coffee Shop

Trapped in the glass castle of Coffee Shop.Photo: Melissa Hom

Courtney Yates isn’t bothered that customers stereotype her because she’s one of the many Coffee Shop servers who also happen to be working models (you may have seen her in a Belvedere ad shot by Terry Richardson). “People come in with a chip on their shoulder,” she says, “but once you show that you’re a complicated human being, it’s out the window. I know I’m not stupid.”

The owners used to be models. Do they specifically recruit models?
No, it’s known around the city that models work here. And agencies sometimes recommend that models go here.

What will models eat when they come in?
There’ll be a lot of girls pushing salad around on their plate. A lot of Brazilians will get our Brazilian dishes like the moqueca.

Have any models who’ve worked there hit the big time?
Taye Diggs used to literally make coffee at the Coffee Shop. He came in last year with a couple of his friends, Oliver Hudson and someone else. They gave me $250 on a $30 check!

What other sorts of celebs do you get?
Dave Chappelle comes in all the time and just gets French toast and is very nice and doesn’t want to be bothered or talked to.

What’s up with the reputation Coffee Shop has for bad, rude service?
I’m not a bad server. They encourage new people to the city, and they’ll give you a first chance to work here. Obviously that sometimes goes badly, but the bad waitresses don’t last that long.

Since the place is open 24 hours, you must have good stories about people coming in late-late?
People come in and order pancakes and eggs, and when the food comes to their table, it’ll accidentally be fajitas and a salad. And they’ll eat it anyway.

Do the models get hit on a lot, or are people intimidated?
People write their number down on a $20 bill — I’m like, “Are you kidding?” One time one of my girlfriends was cocktailing for this guy in the back. He gave her $900 for one $7 drink. I said, “Jesus, Megan, it’s because you have the biggest boobs in the Coffee Shop! All these flat-chested bitches!”

Do people try to bribe you for a seat outside?
I’d take it. I’m not going to lie. “Sure, $40 will get you a table!”