Resto Horror Show
10 Dirty Little Restaurant Secrets
There's a reason most restaurants keep the kitchen doors closed -- and it's not just because it's so hot back there.
It can be tough for restaurateurs to turn a profit and Slashfood has uncovered some of the ultra-dirty deeds even the best restaurants commit in order to pinch pennies.
Read on for 10 true stories about the subtle, sneaky and sometimes downright disgusting ways restaurants cheat to save a buck -- and how you might be paying the price.
10. Using Cabbage in Place of Seaweed
9. Deep-Frying Everything
8. Substituting Top-Shelf Alcohol with Generic Booze
7. Topping Pitchers of Beer with Seltzer Water
6. Refilling Pricey Bottled Waters with Tap
5. Recycling Baskets of Chips
4. Serving Rotten Meat
3. Using Fake Creamer
2. Serving Caffeinated Coffee as Decaf
1. Souping Up Big Ticket Items
Old Shrimp! No problem , worked somewhere that asked me to soak in bleach to take the nasty smell out of it and then serve it , told them I would'nt. Asked for my paycheck and cut my ties before someone died.
My son worked at a Mexican Restaurant,where they used Red Cloth Napkins. One day he opened up a new bundle to roll up his silverware for the dinner crowd. When he opened up the bundle, roaches started to crawl out. This grossed him out and reported it to his supervisor. His supervisor told him to use them anyway. GROSS!!! Needless to say, I now ask for paper napkins anytime I see cloth napkins on the tables.
I have worked in the industry for many years and in most cases I have not seen anything gross or disgusting..but it does happen..grill cooks licking their fingers before touching the meat for doneness, food picked up off the floor and served, TEA urn spouts that are never cleaned and full of mold and other gross stuff..BEWARE ICE TEA DRINKERS. Cheap cuts of meat sold as expensive ones and once I saw a line cook stick his finger up his BUTT and rub it all over the steak to be served to the owner of the establishment...that was the grossest thing I have ever seen.
I worked in restaurants -- mostly 'fine dining' -- and had an interesting range of experiences, mostly depending on the chef. If a kitchen was run by an upstanding, demanding and interested chef, fewer oddities happened to get served. In one instance, I remember doing a $1000/plate fundraiser where we were supposed to be serving pheasant. When the chef presented me with the meat to trim down, I said: "Looks like chicken to me..." Granted they were very nice capons...
Food cost drives some potentially fatal errors in food prep. If you have allergies...watchout. A regular practice in several of the restaurants I worked in was to feed cocktail shrimp trimmings into the lobster salad. If you happen to be someone with a shrimp allergy you may end up with a bit of a surprise.
That is the tip of the iceberg. More unusual errors can slip by when inexperienced personnel are part of the action.
Knowing what I know never deters me from eating out, but I am careful about what I choose. And while I rarely send something back (once in my life) I can clearly define the issues.
I recently quit a famous New York restaurant owned by a famous Boston chef where I was a server because it was absolutely disgusting in their penny pinching ways and just down right unsanitary practices. First of all I had to fight with the cooking staff to maintain some semblance of respect for people paying big money to eat there. I caught one cook dropping an item on the floor, plating it and expecting me to then serve it. When I told him he actually had to remake the dish, he got indignant and defensive. I might as well as tied a target on my back from there on in.
Most of the time the dishwashers who were on another floor didn't seem to care about replenishing the cups, silverware and glassware so we had to wash those items by hand in the back sink with hand soap. And yes, one fryolator for EVERYTHING. there is a constant bug problem that they just didn't take seriously. The night staff would routinely leave food items like foccacia and pastries out or hidden in little hiding places for themselves and forget about them. Result? Infestation. That's just the tip of the iceberg.
When I have leftovers at restaurants, I pour catsup, hot sauce and salt and pepper over everything. My son (who is in the restaurant business) is very fussy about his kitchen. NOTHING is recycled and if a server is found guilty of any of these "tricks" they are immediately let go.
i worked in the resturant buisness for many years..if you want to eat food from a clean kitchen..STAY HOME..never send your food back to the kitchen because it is not cooked properly..cooks and chefs get very annoyed..theres no telling what will happen to that steak..if you don't want to share your salad with the person before you ..BRING YOUR OWN...my best advice is to buy a steak and a head of lettuce and stay home and cook it yourself
Watch the guy who cleans up the tables at the authentic Mexican restaurants. He is taught to not only reuse the chips, but to put the unused salsa back into the pot, also. I asked the manager when I saw this happen. "The spices in the salsa kill the germs so don't worry. Every Mexican restaurant does this." I checked around town, and it was true. Sometimes they have a bucket on the floor in which they dump the used salsa, but it ends up back on the tables. No more salsa for me unless I either make it from home or buy it from a sealed jar.
This was a common bar trick some bartenders and managers would do. It would save the bartenders extra work and the bar manager money on produce. Under the sink where the glasswasher is there is a basket the glasses are dumped in to remove straws, fruit, etc. At some establishment the fruit would be picked out, rinsed under cold water and reused as a garnish. Just be carefull to check for lipstick and chewing gum.
I spent a good portion of my life working in places that had bad roach problems. I found one in my salad once and in chicken wings ...I eat at home most of the time. If I go out and see any filth ...I'm gone. Bojangles in the south ....dirty as hell.!!!
Twice (in different restaurants) I have been witness to reusing food. In one family-owned restaurant, when the tables were cleared, if there were any unused rolls we were told to put them back in the roll bin to be used by the next customer. What if these were dropped on the floor or played with by a child? When the boss wasn't looking we threw them out. At a Shoney's, one waitress dropped a bowl of melon balls on the floor of the prep area. The manager told her to pick them up, wash them off and put them on the buffet or she would lose her job. That's when I quit. Within a year, they went out of business.
OK, that's it. I am never eating out ever again. I did not know about the "well done" steak trick, BUT it has to explain my experience with City Range in Greenville, SC. I ate there only twice (stupid me, I gave them a second chance), and ordered a well done porterhouse steak both times. Both times it tasted rancid. It was awful. The first time when I told the waitress, she brushed me off. Second time it happened I just decided never to eat there again. And I haven't, and I won't. I also tell everyone of my experience there. They may have saved money serving me rancid cuts of meat, but they lost way more money via future customers, because I always tell people of my experience there.
I worked at a restaurant that served rotisserie chicken. The chicken came in cases of multiple whole chickens. When we didn't use the chicken and they would start smelling bad I would tell the owner the chicken was spoiled and that it was smelling really bad. He would have the cook wash the chicken saying it was just the juice the chicken was sitting in that smelled bad. When we would use the chicken the customers would ask if we were cooking it different because it did not taste the same. The owner would tell them he was trying some new spices.
Went into a well know chicken place many years ago, close to closing and when the worker came through the door to the kitchen, I could see a couple fornicating on the counter in the kitchen. When the clerk asked me what I wanted, I told him I would have some of what the other guy was having. I left without buying any chicken.
10 More Dirty Restaurant Tricks
In September, Slashfood wrote about "10 Dirty Little Restaurant Secrets", those ways that restaurants cut corners to save a few dimes. Boy did you readers weigh in. We've culled 10 of the best reader-submitted restaurant tricks from the 468 comments left on the post.
Read on for Slashfood readers' horror stories -- from nibbled-upon entrees to doctored veal cutlets.
10. Reusing Leftovers
9. The Chef's Special Is the Easiest, Cheapest Dish to Prepare
8. The Waitstaff Nibbles on Your Entree Before It's Served to You
7. The Bartender Puts All the Booze in the Straw of Your Watered-Down Drink
6. Fish Bits Substituted for Shrimp
5. Marrying Half-Drunken Bottles of Wine
4. Passing Pork Off as Veal
3. Stale Hot Dogs Reborn as Corn Dogs
2. Combining Quality Ingredients With Subpar Ones
1. Your Regular Coffee Is Actually Decaf
I have owned a local restaurant for 25 years....my staff would be fired if I ever caught them eating off customers plates or as we call it "bus buckets" dining....
Bosses who deny the above comments are usually the most guilty. They get away with it because the American public has become ignorant of food, drink, and service. Put out a large portion at what seems to be a fair price, and a 48 oz. soda, and most Americans think they have eaten well. We can thank the chains and their idea that management means cost cutting. Restauranteurs used to think quality of product was tied to their reputation, and so strived for high performance. But in the last 30 years more great restaurants have disappeared, even in NYC. Chains serving frozen portion controlled food have popped up like weeds.
I can maybe understand the drinks and the straw. BUT!!! if i ever caught someone messing with my food. I would wait for them out side and XXXX them. So go ahead and take the chance, maybe we're watching you also. Never can tell can you? believe me I wouldn't hesitate to XXXX you or your type.
The most disgusting thing I've ever heard of in a restaurant was a few friends of my son, all working for a very large chain pizza restaurant, claiming that when they received a ticket for delivery, for someone in our town they didn't like, they would "punch down the dough" with their penises. Slapping the dough down that way. The manager was always stoned (was actually selling pot to the kids) and was only semi-conscious most the time and supposedly never noticed as she was in the front and they were in the back unsupervised for the most part. I told the kids off, and have never eaten there or ordered from a pizza place again. There is no doubt in my mind they were telling the truth as I overheard part of it and then demanded to know what on earth they were talking about. I also called the home office and reported the activity and the manager. Nothing was done.
NEVER, EVER, Use the condiments! I used to work at a steakhouse (yes, a major chain) where we were only "allowed" 4 clean towels per night--for over 50 tables! At the end of the evening it was someones job to clean all the A-1, ketchup bottles, ect. They had us wipe the lip of the bottle, inside and out with those dirty towels (I preferred to call the towels "botulism swabs"). Yes, we had to wipe INSIDE the lip of the bottle and the caps with those towels...the same towels that had cleaned every table all night long......
Never order or eat any kind of appetizers, like salsa, bread etc. leftovers are all sent back and dumped in big bowls or cans. think of all the germs you are getting from other people, not to mention the cans are NEVER washed, they just keep adding and reusing.
Being a lifetime restaurant worker who has worked at every level of the business, I hate when companies like AOL put these articles on their main page. Sure, there are some bad restaurant owners out there who have done shady things and workers in those restaurants who are guilty. However, there are millions of people who don't deserve to suffer because people read articles like this and believe everything they see on the internet. There are bad apples in every kind of business, restaurants don't deserve to be singled out like this. The very large majority of restaurant are honestly run businesses and are struggling enough in this economy that they don't need this bad publicity.
I work part time in a local IHOP. NEVER EVER are left overs used for anything! All plates are dumped into the trash, no matter what is on them! The cooks and servers are clean and wash their hands 10 times an hour! Our wiping rags are soaked in a bleach water mixture. NONE of these horrid things happen there or I would NOT work there!
I worked at a popular "DONUT" and coffee chain in Naperville, IL - still to this day, I cannot eat donuts or donut holes...And worst of all, the bucket that we used to mop the floor - was also used to fill the frozen orange drinks and the frozen coffee drinks. Once a customer complained that her frozen coffee drink tasted like bleach. She was right! I DID NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS!!! I QUIT IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE COMPANY GOT FLACK FOR IT.
So - there are dozens and dozens of ways that restaurants save bottom on their bottom line!
I've worked at two different Applebee's chains, and I assure you that while we've resorted to a few frozen entrees, Applebee's is the CLEANEST and MOST SANITARY restaurant I've ever worked at. Red Lobster, on the other hand, does not wash their silverware, only soaks it in cold water, then has a special silverware person to wipe it down and roll it.
What is it you think owners do when they discover that the meat or fish was never refrigerated the night before? Or when the food is delivered in a defrosted condition? Do you think they throw it out?
These are the same people who corrupt your daughters, fire on whim, and cheat their purveyors, taxes (many a place has closed for failure to pay state tax) and employees. People who deliberately hire illegal staff so they can underpay them, and screw many other employees. Get another job? Many employees need a job that will allow them to go to school or watch their children. To suggest otherwise is being a heartless bast**d. These owners are notorious for keeping three sets of books, one for taxes, one for possible sale, and one for the truth. AS an industry, it is frought with deceit, corruption, theft, and illegal behavior that would never be permitted in any other business. When was the last time you heard of a restaurant CEO going to prison or being fined for their outrageous behavior? It certainly isn't because they are good guys.