‘Vanderpump Rules’: Producers Share What Really Happens When Lisa Vanderpump Arrives at SUR

Like most employees, servers at Vanderpump Rules restaurant SUR scramble when they know the boss is about to arrive.

Atmosphere at a Night of Fashion Models at SUR Lounge
Atmosphere at a Night of Fashion Models at SUR Lounge|Barry King/WireImage

Lisa Vanderpump owns and runs several restaurants, including SUR, Pump and now TomTom. The show Vanderpump Rules was originally rooted in the lives of a few of the bartenders and wait staff from SUR. But since the show’s inception in 2013, restaurant filming locations have grown. Vanderpump first added Pump to the location list. Then last year, she opened TomTom along with Tom Schwartz and Tom Sandoval.

Cameras often capture Vanderpump arriving at the restaurant, typically to oversee operations between lunch and dinner service. Or she’ll arrive to meet with guests or even have a sitdown chat with someone on staff. Those sitdown chats often mean someone is in trouble. But what is the overall vibe when Vanderpump arrives? Producers spilled about what it is like to film at SUR and what happens when Vanderpump hits the scene.

Servers fight over who gets to deliver the tea

While the series is brimming with piping hot tea, SURvers bicker over who gets to deliver the actual tea—the English Breakfast kind. Producers told Bravo’s Style & Living that servers fight to wait on Vanderpump when she arrives at the restaurant. “When the staff knows that she is coming in for a meal, producers say they’ll ‘argue over who takes her table and make sure English Breakfast tea is ready to go,'” according to Style and Living.

Also, servers know Vanderpump insists on privacy when she is dining at one of her restaurants. “According to the team, Table 16 is Lisa’s usual table at SUR. ‘It’s raised and sort of fenced off, so it’s where she can get the most privacy.'”

Even though she appreciates privacy while dining, Vanderpump knows the restaurant business, especially one on reality television, is very public. “The restaurant business has always been a public arena,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “We’ve just got a bit of a different energy now, with the whole celebrity factor from the show.”

Lighting is a huge problem

Producers also shared that they often battle with the lighting scheme at SUR. “Lisa wants her restaurants dark with loud music, which is difficult for filming. In fact, it causes a bit of tension between her and the team. According to production, they are in a constant negotiation with her about raising the light level and turning the music down,” Style & Living reports.

Also, fans visit SUR to get their own scoop. “Customers want to see the cast working, but what they most want to see is the crew shooting while the cast is working,” showrunner Bill Langworthy shared with The Hollywood Reporter. “You can ask them, ‘Maybe put your phone down?’ but they don’t. They physically can’t.”

On the upside, the production crew has been able to sample just about every item on the SUR menu. “Producers say they know the SUR menu ‘as well as people who’ve eaten there a bunch, but not as well as the servers,’ adding, ‘We’re asked to give recommendations a lot.’ They probably suggest the goat cheese balls all the time,” according to Style & Living.