The hot waitress index (REUTERS/David Becker)

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If you've noticed that the wait staff at your local restaurant has grown higher cheekbones and ampler buntlines, it's not your lofty imagination. A standard allotment of eye candy has always been a common method for keeping patrons in their seats and ordering cup after cup of decaf. But when the economy's fallen on tougher times, leading to fewer customers willing to plunk down $12.50 for a sliver of tiramisu, a restaurant will often gently phase out the employees with "great personalities" and usher in Gossip Girl extras to awkwardly read off the daily specials.
Last August, New York magazine's Hugo Lindgren colourfully referred to this economic indicator as the Hot Waitress Index.
As is the case with members of upper management being let go and forced to practice their skill sets in lower-paying positions, former models and actors have fewer options in a sluggish job market and are applying their limited talent -- attractiveness -- into the one arena they're qualified for: the service industry. At the same time, restaurants are all too happy to hire these pretty faces, despite their propensity for dropping trays of Diet Cokes, because it gives customers an incentive to return and try a new collection of pick-up lines.