Restaurant horror stories

Horror stories has been a side topic in another discussion. Calling all of you former and current food service people. What have you witnessed, been forced to do, in a restaurant setting. I personally don’t think about these things, although I know they happen. I put my belief in food safety and sanity aside when I dine out.

Let’s here them! Please, no restaurant names for obvious reasons.

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Took my wife to Famous Dave’s (BBQ chain for those who don’t know)one night. Famous ribs there, so I asked for the whole rack. Dave, the manager, said “we don’t have any ribs.” I said, "one would thing that famous Dave’s BBQ Ribs might have ribs in house all of the time. “Sorry, we don’t have any.” So, I said “okay, then we’ll try some briket.” “Sorry, out of that, too.” I go, “then we’ll just take the bill and go home.” He said “well, there is no bill.” I said “exactly” and left. BBQ place with no BBQ. No sign , or anything, to indicate they were missing their two biggest items.


Local burger place up here. The business at this location was pretty good before they closed down and were replaced by this new business…

Look at how many 5 star reviews. If you order a cheeseburger, it comes with no tomato or pickles unless you specifically ask for them (they insist their customers don’t want these). My last (and I mean last) order from this place was a $10 cheesesteak (just the sandwich). This is what it looked like AFTER I ask for more cheese…


We have a favorite local pub we’ve been going to for years. One day I decided to order their chicken parm because I was kind of tired of fish and chips. It was inedible. The short pasta was cooked to mush, the chicken cutlet was burnt and the marinara sauce had an excessive amount of sugar in it as if someone accidentally dumped a bag of sugar into it. So wrong on so many levels - someone was having a bad day in the kitchen. But we still go there.


Yes, sometimes-- I’d even say most of the time-- ill prepared food is the fault of a line cook… who very suddenly got a promotion during his shift as the dishwasher…or drank too much, broke-up with significant other, or any of the myriad reasons he/she should not be cooking then but the Mgr was desperate.

Heh, a similar story with that same & different dishes. Our fav pub is Rosie’s. I was tired of always getting a burger & they had Mac & Cheese on special. It came out in a perfectly square block & was still ICE Cold in the center.

I also happen to be nuts for a good fish & Chips. It became my go-to dish there and most were excellent but a couple were over cooked but not enough to mention. Never stopped us from returning.

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One bad experience will not have me offering up a bad review or prevent me from returning. Two… so long as they are not back to back, probably not either. Three… bub-bye!

Me thinks the OP is asking for horror stories from the back of the house, not as a customer.

On the mild side of horror, I worked in a kitchen when I was in between college and high school. The cooks would take half drunk glasses of wine that came back from tables being cleared and pour them into a pot that was used to make a marinade. I guess the theory was that whatever might have been associated with whoever drank out of the glass would be killed by the alcohol and subsequent cooking. I guess it was thrifty. I saw a lot of things dropped on the floor, picked up, brushed off with the hand and used.

My son worked as a runner one summer in high school at a very well known seafood place here in NYC. The stories he came back with had me in stitches. Funny sh*t. Better that you never know or think about it as a customer.


Yeah, you’re right… but crap is crap, and if it originates from the back of the house, it is also presented to the customer. So I am not sure that comments from both do not apply here.

I worked in a place that served baskets of rolls with dinner. When the trays came back to the kitchen, we’d empty the leftover rolls back into the warmer. The topmost drawer of the warmer had the unused rolls in it: that’s what we used if we served someone we knew or we wanted a snack.

Salad was served in big wooden bowls. Quartered lettuce heads set atop mixed greens that filled the bowl. We reused the bottom stuff over and over. Sometimes we had to pick random stuff out of it before it was re-served.


My first job as a 16 year old was in the deli half of a restaurant. The owner told me when the deviled eggs developed a crust to sprinkle some water on top, mush it around a bit with your fingers and sprinkle more paprika on top. After the third night of this nonsense I chunked them all in the trash. Same thing with chicken, ham, tuna salad. Add water and stir it up. To this day I’m suspicious of deli salads. The only one I trust is Kroger plain chicken salad because it’s a top seller. High turnover.


Ah, yes, An affluent relative came to take me to lunch. There was a greasy spoon coffee shop across the street. She arrived in her full length black diamond mink coat. We sat in a booth with cracked vinyl imitation leather seats. She ordered the “double hot dog”. When it came, there were only three halves. She asked where the fourth was. I almost shouted, 'DON’T ASK!" But she already had, and in a minute or so it arrived. I didn’t want to know where it had been.


I posted about a recent one.


Yes, my intention was back of the house horror stories. There certainly is a lot of bad food out there, but I was hoping to hear from the back of the house people with things they had to do that they knew were wrong, but management forced them to do to keep their jobs.

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Uff, if there’s anything that ups my angst it’s the sugar “marinara” sauce. One crapper doesn’t always mean death. I take my boy to Famous Dave’s on his B-day.

Two things come to mind immediately from my years as a waitress.

  1. We were instructed to take butter served along side of bread baskets to scoop it into a big bin for the chefs to use for omelets. Yes even butter that was clearly used.
  2. The owner liked coffee with “crunch” and would argue with us when we didn’t include grinds in the coffee. Gross!!! Nobody else on earth wants grinds in their coffee.

I’ll think of more…


My comments in another thread inspired this one, so let me have at it. There are so many, and I will post them as they come to mind. Keep in mind this was a sub shop, so if I am referring to meats or cheeses, they are large blocks in cold cut form. All stories are within the last year.

  1. Routinely pieces of ham and other meats were dropped on the floor. Our manager always instructed us to “wash” them off in the hand sink, cover in paper towels, and then put back into the deli case. We were instructed to use them for rude customers. You’d know if something was dropped on the floor when you arrived on shift and were told, “Don’t eat the pepperoni today.”

  2. Turkeys were opened in the hand sink. Aside from seeing the amount of slime, gunk, and water come out of these packages of “all natural turkey”, opening them where people wash their hands is a huge violation. I stopped eating cold cut turkey for this reason.

  3. One time, we were so busy that a piece of ham dropped on the floor and was sitting in the sink for hours. Several employees washed their hands over the ham during this time and it was still placed back in the case.

  4. Our manager was an extreme penny-pincher who one time tried to limit our use of cloth towels. She tried to limit it to five per shift and always told us to “wipe your hands on your apron, that’s what it is for.” Imagine the bacteria build up all day. When watching The Bear last week, I heard a character say, “Don’t wipe your hands on your apron” and I laughed so hard that my BF thought I was having an attack of some kind.

  5. Hanging under the counter were towels that were used to wipe both the slicer and also our knives. While dipped in sanitizer solution at the beginning of the day, they were not swapped out. So yeah, the same towel wiping meat and cheese fragments, mayo, etc all day long. These towels magically disappeared the day we had our annual visit from the township health inspector.

  6. We had a separate knife for tuna subs. A good thought, I guess. However, this knife too was not wiped and it used to rest underneath our bacon warmer. It dawned on me one day that not only is the bacteria on this knife probably at record levels, but we were incubating it by placing it under a f*cking warmer! I mentioned this and it was met with a shoulder shrug.

  7. Retribution against rude customers was actively encouraged. Our manager always said, “You can’t spit in their food but you can lose the salt shaker.” You called in an order and were an asshole? Guess who’s getting 10 days worth of sodium sprinkled on their sub!

I have more, I’m sure.


Dang. Makes me think twice about eating out.


Could you tell us the general vicinity of this place…

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Ho-lee shiite ballz. Glad I was never a fan of deli turkey. That place oughta be shut down.

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