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Nicki Minaj is famous for a lot of things. She’s a hugely successful hip-hop artist, a business maven, she’s prone to getting into feuds, and she likes the finer things in life. But like many celebrities, back before she had it all, Minaj had to work hard to make ends meet. One of the jobs she had was as a server at the seafood chain Red Lobster. Although she’s the picture of success now, she didn’t do quite as well at that job. In fact, she was fired — more than once.

Nicki Minaj sitting at a table
Nicki Minaj | Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Marc Jacobs

Nicki Minaj worked hard before she was famous

Minaj has not been content to merely sell millions of records as a hip-hop star. She’s also built a business empire, with enterprises such as creating her own perfumes, investing as a part-owner in a cocktail company, and launching collaborative products with OPI, Mattel, and Mac Cosmetic. All this together has netted her an impressive $80 million. But of course, she didn’t start out with that kind of cash in the bank.

As she once told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, before she made it big, she had a few less glamorous jobs. She once worked as an office manager, although she did admit that she tended to call in sick whenever she felt like it. Another job she had was as a server at Red Lobster. According to her, she pretty much waited on every New York diner who ever ate at the seafood chain. 

Celebrities who worked at Red Lobster

If it’s hard to imagine a superstar like Minaj waiting tables, you should know that she’s not the only one. There’s a reason for the stereotype of a struggling actor or musician waiting tables while they strive for their big break. Chris Pratt famously lived in his van and worked as a server before getting discovered. And Minaj is not only alone as a famous former server, she’s not even the only celebrity who’s worked at Red Lobster. 

Do You Remember reports that Anna Nicole Smith and Chris Rock also worked at the restaurant chain. Smith worked in the front of the house, while Rock washed dishes in the back. Although waiting tables is a job that can be looked down on, anyone who’s done it knows that it’s very hard work. Minaj clearly knows her way around a table, but it seems that she had a hard time keeping her job. 

Fired how many times?

According to MTV, Minaj admitted that she’d worked at three or four Red Lobster locations, and she was fired from every one of them. Servers will tell you that two problems they have are when customers don’t tip and when they take the server’s pen after signing the receipt. When that happened to Minaj, she dealt with it in a confrontational way.  “I walked to the car, I banged on the car window, and I said, ‘Give me my pen!'” she said. “My manager fired me on the spot.”

But when she appeared on Fallon’s show, he gave her a chance at what he called “Red Lobster Redemption.” He took her to the restaurant for dinner, and when they were done eating, they both donned uniforms and waited tables. Minaj may have lost a few server jobs, but she proved to be better at it than Fallon. He was spotted helping himself to customers’ biscuits and drinks. 

Minaj may not have been a success as a server back in the day, but her work at Red Lobster gave her another gift. As she told Fallon, “that’s what made me want to hurry up and follow my dream, because I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is not for me. I gotta hurry up and get out of here before it’s too late!'” Fans and restaurant patrons alike are glad she did.