The actual conditions of Cutler's tavern are not terrible. The place is an efficiently run, crowded, and busy place of business. If it was a terribly filthy, disgusting place, Mrs. Cutler wouldn't have so much business. But simply because the working conditions are far from dirty and abysmal doesn't mean that the working conditions are easy. The tavern is presentable to guests, because Mrs. Cutler works her employees into the ground. As I said, the place is busy. When Lyddie first arrives, Mrs. Cutler and Triphena barely have any time for Lyddie. Triphena even makes her sit in a corner so as to not be in the way.
But the cook was too busy moving the food from the fire to the long wooden table in the center of the room to pay her [Lyddie] any mind.
Mrs. Cutler is a hard task master, but she is not completely heartless. She does give Lyddie a newer, cleaner dress in order to look more presentable to guests; however, Lyddie is amazed at how hard Mrs. Cutler makes her employees work.
The mistress was large in body and seemed to be everywhere on watch. How could a woman so obviously rich in the world's goods be so mean in the use of them? Her eyes were narrow and close and always on the sharp for the least bit of spilt flour or the odd crumb on the lip. . . Mistress Cutler watched Lyddie like a barn cat on a sparrow. . .
Unfortunately for Lyddie, the dress is about the only kind thing that Mrs. Cutler is able to do for Lyddie. Mrs. Cutler even makes Lyddie sleep in the hall, and forces her to go to bed after all of the guests and rise before them so "that no paying guest in the windowed rooms . . . should know that they shared the floor with the kitchen girl." Mrs. Cutler does indeed work Lyddie extremely hard, which is a reason why Lyddie will eventually make her way to the textile mills.