Chain Restaurant Employees Reveal Their Secrets Of The Trade
For a lot of people, getting a peek behind the curtain when you work for a large company can be jarring. You get all of this new information that you want people to know, but really who are you going to tell? If only there was some group of people out there willing to listen to all of our minor chain trivia... Enter reddit. One user asked:
People who work in chain restaurants, what are some "secrets of the trade" of some of the more popular items on the menu that most people would have no clue about?
And guys, we are learning SO much right now.
The More You Know
Ask for fish/chicken cooked fresh at all but peak times. The rest is actually pretty good. Meats are sliced in store in the mornings, except the actual roast beef which is sliced to order.
The meat in the chili in fast food is made from the burger patties that sat on the warmer for too long. They'd be gummy as burgers, but instead of throwing them away, they get turned into chili meat.
Basically every soup comes frozen in bags and we just thaw it out in hot water. Same with the lemonades, we keep them in jugs frozen and just stick them under hot water.
This doesn't make our soups taste any less better. I'm simply just pointing out something people may not know about that famous bread place.
Get What You Pay For
You pay for what you get. Where I am at, it isn't necessarily a chain, but there are many of them all over the US. Is there a $40 Ribeye on the Menu? Likely it is fresh and well prepared. Does that menu also have a $4 Burger that isn't on Happy Hour Special? Yeah, it was frozen.
All of the desserts are frozen. They literally came in boxes that looked like the lower-quality stuff that you would see in the frozen section at the grocery store.
The "house wine" could be bought at Wal-Mart for like half the price.
Your soup and vegetables all came frozen in a bag.
The "Caesar salad" was just a regular salad with a few toppings removed and one of the dressings (not actual Caesar salad dressing) thoroughly mixed in. On that note, the salad bar ingredients could sit there, exposed, by the entry to the kitchen for hours.
Salt Inside, Fat Outside
Swiss Chalet - the chicken is just salt inside, fat outside, and cooked in the rotisserie. Really quite simple, and fresh. Everything else though is pretty much some package or another, and the microwave is used way more than it should be.
Huge Frozen Boxes
Coffee chains: all of our sandwiches and pastries are pre packaged. We pull them out of a freezer a couple times a day and let them thaw. It's probably pretty common knowledge, but I recently had a lady come in wanting to exchange some pastries she had bought the evening before. She said they were a little hard (well yeah you got them an hour before closing and they were about to be thrown out) and asked if the ones in the case now were fresh. I didn't have the heart to tell her they come to us in huge frozen boxes.
Art of the Dip
Almost anywhere you get Spinach and Artichoke Dip, it starts with the same frozen, pre-mixed base that Nestle makes.
It's All Frozen
Having worked in pubs all around the UK, anything of the deep fried variety will always be frozen, chips, onion rings, scampi, you name it, it came in a freezer bag, even fish.
The teriyaki and buffalo may be a day or two past their date because we don't sell enough. There's also a 90% chance you're eating the meatballs from the day before.
If you order a "Quesoritto", we automatically hate you. Doubly so if you complain about the price difference. You're basically making us go through the line twice while burning our hands on your meal. All while we try and do other people's meals to keep the line going.
Certified Sandwich Artist
Certified sandwich artist here:
Parmesan Oregano and Italian Herbs and Cheese are the same exact thing except for the sprinkle of cheese.
Tuna is really 3 parts mayo to 2 parts tuna.
The sweet onion sauce is the only sauce on the chicken for a sweet onion chicken teriyaki. There's no teriyaki sauce on it.
[In many chains], you can swap a toy in a kids meal for an ice cream cone for free.
Bloomin onion. Ask for it to be fried hard or extra crispy.
Helps give it some crunch and takes a little of the grease out.
No Wonder You Have Heartburn
Worked in one 15 years ago, but this will not have changed. Our hottest wing sauce was so hot that the metal bowls we made it in would be eaten through by the sauce in a matter of weeks.
In case anyone thinks this is only due to friction from mixing, our control was the "mild". Those bowls lasted forever.
Skip The Lettuce
I've cut the lettuce at a certain burrito joint, and I have seen bugs in the lettuce too many times. And it's dirty sometimes when we can't get our usual brand. We do our best to clean it, but still...don't get the lettuce.
And the ground beef is just prepackaged s***. We reheat it. We grill the chicken and steak on location! We marinate the pork overnight, slow cook it in the oven for 6 hours, and then cool it in its own juices! Be adventurous! The ground beef is garbage, don't waste you're life!
When we ran out of sauce for the pizza, the cooks would just use ketchup. I said they were bad for doing that, then they gave me a ketchup pizza to try. It was pretty good actually.
Ice Cream Answers
So this isn't really a secret of the trade but I know why the ice cream machine is always down. The ice cream machine goes through a 2-4 hr (can't remember exact number shame on me) heat cycle everyday to prevent the ice cream/shake mix from going bad. It basically heats up just before it starts to boil and stays at that temperature for a few hours and then cools down (machine out of service during this time). On any giving day there is probably only 1 person (most likely none) during a shift that knows how to operate that machine. If the machine turns off for whatever reason it will need to go through this heat cycle when it is back on. Since almost nobody knows the mechanics of this machine the heat cycle will happen again within 24 hours from the time it was turns back on usually during time when the restaurant is busy instead of someone resetting it and making the heat cycle initiate when the restaurant is closed or when it is really slow usually in the middle of the night. When you order ice cream and the cashier says sorry but the "ice cream machine isn't working" in reality it is working it's just going through a heat cycle but hey don't know that so they can't explain it. The machine also has to be completely drained and disassembled, individual parts cleaned, lubricated etc. this usually takes place during peak hours. Why? Mostly due to bad management (they will make anybody a manager at McDonald's) & because management doesn't want to train anybody to clean/operate the machine because they see the time that it takes somebody cleaning the machine as wasted labor because they are not producing (taking orders/cooking/giving it orders)
The reason it is usually cleaned during peak hours is because only 1-3 employees in the entire store know to clean the machine. These employees tend to be "good employees" and usually always work during peak hours and that's the only time they have to clean it
You can swap toast for pancakes with no extra cost.
Also, if you want scrambled eggs ask for them cracked, otherwise it's from a powdered mix.