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Ever look at a restaurants rating from the Health Department and wonder if it's truly that clean? Maybe you live in a town where the health codes aren't that strict. Well, someone on Reddit decided to ask people in the restaurant industry exactly what we can look out for when it comes to a dirty kitchen.

Reddit user Objective-Switch-823 asked:

"People who have worked in bad/unethical/unhygienic restaurants, what are some red flags customers should watch out for?"

Often times, customers don't have their eyes on the kitchen. It's behind a closed doors, and unless you know someone who works there, there's very little we can be sure of when it comes to hygiene.

Fortunately for us, Reddit came to our aid and explained a few things that we may not have picked up on otherwise.

Sometimes the red flags aren't as noticeable from the customers point of view.

"Dirty dining room is a red flag. Same for washrooms."

"How fresh is the salad?"

"Noticing the staff fighting."

"Huge red flag would be seeing a manager or owner berate or verbally abuse an employee in public."

"It's tricky, a lot of the red flags are hard to see from the customers side."

- CommandStunning7266

"Huge red flag would be seeing a manager or owner berate or verbally abuse an employee in public."

"A couple years ago my family and I went to a local BBQ restaurant where this was happening rather loudly. We ate and got out of there ASAP. Spoiler: that restaurant is no longer open."

- BrainWall68

Saturday Night Live Ugh GIF by HULU Giphy

"We have a locally owned mom and pop country cooking restaurant in our town. They have had the pull down fabric hand cloth machine for drying your hands in the bathrooms for at least 30 years. They are always pulled way out onto the floor and completely nasty looking. All I could ever think about was that the staff would be wiping their hands on them and then going back to fix our food."

- Pea-and-Pen

Sticky floors.

"If you notice your feet sticking to the floor, turn around and leave immediately..."

- Linux4ever_Leo

:Sticky floors or sticky tables. Tells me that the management gave up a long time ago."

- That_Smell_You_Know

Although, maybe they're cleaner than we think?

"The tables and the floor are sticky in the Asian restaurant I work. We clean everyday but for some reason we can't fix it. Both, the floor and the tables are made up of wood. It is hard to take the stickiness out since they are quite old and have been used by 4 restaurants before. But the kitchen is clean though."

- Melodic-Blacksmith20

​"It's most likely soap and residue build up over the years. We had the same issue at a restaurant I used to work at."

"The old owner kind of had a bad case of senioritis, since his son was going to take over. Once the son took over, he was real serious. One of the first things he did was shut down on a Tuesday, rented a floor scrubber, and cleaned the hell out of those floors. He also brought in a sander and sanded down the surface of the tables and restrained the table and bar."

"Took him a whole day, and some help from the staff, but man it was a hell of a lot better after that. You'll 100% lose returning customers if every time they walk into the restaurant, all they hear is the sound of soles peeling off the sticky floor."

- That_Smell_You_Know

Exposing the kitchen from a different perspective.

"My father and brother both worked as gas fitters connecting kitchen appliances and they told me if you saw some of the kitchens they have seen you would probably never eat out again."

"It can be hard to tell how bad a kitchen is without seeing it but they said if the restaurant area doesn't look great then chances are the kitchen will be even worse. They have stories like pulling an oven out to replace it and grease 3 inches thick on the wall with a dead rat and cockroaches behind it. 🤮"


"I worked for a natural gas company when I was younger. When we switched out a meter on a Chinese food place we had to go in and relight their appliances and hot water tank and all that. I walked into the kitchen and slipped almost falling down."

"The floor wasn't wet it was just that thick with built up oil. When I had to lay down on the floor to reach a certain pilot I saw that the dark greasy floor i was laying on was nothing compared to the horror that was under the fryers. I didn't eat at that building again until new owners set up and I watched them tear the kitchen down to the studs."

- ItsMyWorkID

If the menu is more like a short story.

"If the menu is too big that can be a red flag. a huge menu means a lot of food types aren't ordered or kept around a lot. so that chicken patty or crab cake will be like one left in the back of the freezer all chunky and crunchy. they also likely won't have as much experience cooking it and it will be bad."

- demonardvark

"This is why I don't eat at Cheesecake Factory. I only went there once and not only was their menu huge, the food I got tasted like it had been microwaved. It wasn't bad, but I expected a lot better."

- Omny87

Though, there are some exceptions.

"The outlier is Chinese places. It's 100 different dishes made with the same 15 ingredients, which is totally fine."

- bendar1347

"Mexican restaurants too. Chicken, beef, salsa, cream, lettuce, beans, and tortilla are like 90% of the ingredients of 90% of the menu."

- Byizo

Warning: This is about to get gross.

"Dick's Drive In (a burger chain in the Seattle area) uses fresh-cut potatoes for their fries. Sometimes, fresh potatoes have fresh maggots. I was trained to just cook the maggots because you can't tell the difference between a maggot and a french fry once you fry it and put enough salt on it. Now, to be fair, in the year I worked there I never saw a maggot, but the fact that it's a part of their training is gross."

- jnx36

​In case you were worried after reading this, it's not a very common occurrence.

"From a potato farming family here. They sure do. More so in the organic crops. Most maggoty potatoes gets sorted out and make for cheap animal feed, some get sorted out in the processing factory, and some sacks get thrown out once they reach the produce Isle. But you're never guaranteed a bug-free potato."


Know someone who worked there? Better listen to them.

"When your family/friends who work[ed] there tell you not to eat there. Don't eat there. Don't argue with them because you love the food. Don't argue with them because their stories sound absurd. Don't bring up a friend who worked there in the past and never told you anything like they do. Just don't fucking eat there."

- DoubleDThrowaway94

If you can see the kitchen, watch carefully.

"If it's an open kitchen, look out for the kitchen staff wiping their sweat with their hands, on their phone, coughing, touching their faces, not washing hands. I saw kitchen guys grab raw chicken, wipe it on their aprons and make a salad and toss with the same hand. I stopped eating at that place after that."

- piink_clouds

Some of these may seem commonsense, but I bet there's a few restaurants you've been to where you ignored a sticky floor or an angry manager.

If there's anything we can take away from this, it's that sometimes we may never know what's going on behind the kitchen door, unless we work there ourselves. Trust your friends when they tell you something's up!

"Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here."

Photo by UX Gun on Unsplash

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