Restaurant Workers Reveal 30 Dirty Industry Secrets

Published 5 months ago

We assume that the food industry is run rigidly with everyone following the regulations and hygiene practices in place to ensure the safety of their consumers. However, anyone working in the restaurant business may have a different take on the situation based on their first-hand experiences. 

Recently, Redditor u/PocketGoblix started a conversational thread amongst restaurant workers when they inquired online about a ‘dirty secret’ about the business that they were privy to but felt people ought to know. The answers poured in from Netizens, from which we’ve shared a few of the most interesting in the gallery below. 

Read more

#1 I’m guessing my comment will get lost in all of this, but here goes. Managed restaurants for over 25 years and my #1 piece of advice is to stop going to any restaurant that is always hiring. No one is more likely to give you food poisoning than understaffed, undertrained, overworked brand new employees.

Image source: doughty247, Mr. Blue MauMau (not the actual photo)

#2 Don’t come in 10 minutes to close. Everyone will hate you.

Image source: HarveyMushman72, Tim Mossholder (not the actual photo)

#3 The amount of food that comes frozen, from a plastic bag and straight into the microwave is shocking.

Image source: jetlee7, Marco Verch (not the actual photo)

#4 The delicious brownies sold for 10$ a slice? Yeah, that’s Duncan Hines.

Image source: seeasea, Mike Mozart (not the actual photo)

#5 Truffle oil is fake in most restaurants, do your own research on what it’s actually made with.

Image source: anunhappyending, David Jackmanson (not the actual photo)

#6 You would be REALLY surprised with what restaurants can legally get away with as it pertains to cleanliness. Stuff that you think would absolutely get a restaurant shut down is just a simple warning from a health inspector.

Image source: FormerLifeFreak, Domas Mituzas (not the actual photo)

You think the restaurant you eat in is pest free? Think again. Even the nicest, outwardly cleanest-looking restaurants have roaches and rats. You can’t eliminate them – you can only manage them.

#7 Any kitchen I’ve worked in (been many years) you did NOT f**k with people’s food. You didn’t joke about it, you didn’t threaten to do it, it was not amusing. Not like sending out a wrong temp steak or slow working a ticket if a table sucked, that kind of thing was fine, you can f**k with people. But you didn’t adulter the food. No bodily fluids, no foreign substances, you send out clean food and you don’t f**k with that.

Image source: uncre8tv, Pixabay (not the actual photo)

#8 Most restaurants are lawless, godless s**t shows staffed and run by alcoholics, addicts, and idiots. You’ll never have more fun at work or meet more awesome people though. I miss it terribly.

Image source: Appropriate-End714, Andrea Piacquadio (not the actual photo)

#9 The special is just some meat or fish that is a day away from going bad.

Image source: Kyadagum_Dulgadee, Christine McIntosh (not the actual photo)

#10 A good portion of the entire restaurant industry, especially fine dining, relies on undocumented workers for menial labor like cooking/prep cooking, washing dishes, and cleaning. They intentionally hire these people to exploit them and pay them far less than the minimum legal rate.

Image source: dwreckhatesyou

# 11

Image source: zombiegirl_me, Fredrik Rubensson (not the actual photo)

I once worked at an upscale, no children allowed on the property bed and breakfast … and the staff was instructed to save everything. Someone didn’t finish their milk? Pour it back into the container for the next meal. Only ate part of their steak? Cut off the rest, slice it thin, and now we have steak for breakfast. And it was everything served. Butter, vegetables, desserts … just everything. So f*****g disgusting. But I was young and didn’t know you could report them. Luckily, I was just a maid but I still feel bad that I didn’t do anything to stop it.

#12 Sexual assault and harassment is still very common in the industry. Anthony Bourdain was nice enough to discuss this topic.

Corporate run restaurants have procedures to deal with this issue, but non-corporate restaurants turn a total blind eye.

If you work at a place where you feel unsafe, be careful about your personal safety.

Image source: GOODahl

#13 That the staff hates when religious groups come in. Like a lot. Christians were always the WORST! Church group comes in and you know they’re gonna be high maintenance and loud af, Karen WILL complain and you’re lucky if they tip you. Always hated the Sunday crowd.

Image source: freebirdie100, Viktoria Danielová (not the actual photo)

#14 Contrary to popular belief, in my city at least, food trucks are inspected much more frequently and thoroughly than brick and mortars. The health inspector tends to show up at every single event/festival and inspects all food service. For some trucks, this can mean multiple inspections PER WEEK. So, in general in my city, food trucks are far more sanitary than most restaurants.

Image source: killplow, RDNE Stock project (not the actual photo)

#15 Pasta is one of the highest-mark-up items on the menu (with soft drinks being #1 by a country mile). A plate of pasta that costs $15 to order probably cost $1 to make.

Image source: UltimaGabe, Engin Akyurt (not the actual photo)

#16 If you wait tables, find something in common with your guest. Even if it’s a lie. I used to tell people I had family where the were from, tell people I used to live where they are from, tell them I graduated from their university. Really whatever it took to create a larger tip. People are more willing to give to someone they share things in common with. Never be overly nice either. People don’t like you to sound fake. So that’s my secret, oops.

Image source: CountVoodoo77, Andrea Piacquadio (not the actual photo)

#17 The rags used to wipe your table were used to wipe several dozen other tables before yours in addition to any other surfaces that needed wiping before you showed up. They are disgusting.

Image source: JohnnyPolite, Ketut Subiyanto (not the actual photo)

#18 I worked for a pizza place in college. The hot wing sauce was just straight Frank’s (I think it was Durkee brand back then and later changed to Frank’s). The mild and medium were Frank’s diluted with liquid butter… ungodly amounts of liquid butter.

Image source: HumpieDouglas, Mike Mozart (not the actual photo)

#19 If you order from pizza delivery places regularly, you will be treated different depending on how you treat the staff. A lot of systems have sections to leave notes on customers. Personally, if I knew the person was cool I would hook them up with discounts, or as much cheese and peppers and napkins as I could stuff in their bags. If they were jerks, it was always “Whoops, sorry buddy, just ran out!”.

Image source: shartnado3, Norma Mortenson (not the actual photo)

#20 Stuff is microwaved a lot more than you expect.

Image source: Bugaloon, Andy Melton (not the actual photo)

#21 Our ranch was just the Hidden Valley seasoning packets, following the recipe on the back. The only difference, our ‘secret’ ingredient if you will, was just using buttermilk instead of regular milk. People would come in regularly just to buy our ranch, still blows my mind.

Image source: donn_jolly, Willis Lam (not the actual photo)

#22 Where I worked, we knew most of the time when the health inspector was turning up. We also tried to delay letting them into the kitchen. Also, some health inspectors don’t really give a s**t.

Image source: stuloch, cottonbro studio (not the actual photo)

#23 When I worked in a restaurant (Cajun/Creole bar and grill, the owner was from Baton Rouge) we kept it clean and followed code even if the inspector wasn’t coming, so nothing “dirty” really, but…

We cold-brewed our iced tea by filling huge Rubbermaid trash cans (they were dedicated for this, had never been used for their manufactured purpose) with cold water and throwing a few kitchen-sized tea bags in them before leaving them in the walk-in overnight. We filled them with a hose attached to the sink while they were in the walk-in otherwise they’d be too heavy to move. We’d fill the tea dispensers by drawing it from the trash cans with small buckets. We would go through two of those f*****s a day, and the little bit remaining at night would be emptied, and the cans would be cleaned with bleach water and hosed out thoroughly before being refilled again.

Image source: PineappleFit317


In most places in the US, your tips are the servers wages. The tipped wage minimum in the US is $2.13/hr. Any tipped employee can make below minimum wage, so often a server has to tip out the bar tenders and other staff. The restaurant is supposed to make up the difference if you don’t hit normal minimum wage. Often, they don’t. Wage theft is not everywhere, but is common.

Image source: LouziphirBoyzenberry


The cleanest food you can get grilled is waffle house. Everyone can see the grill. It’s cleaned with a grill brick every day. Police come and eat there all day. If you want to bag on the House, go ahead, but I worked that grill, and I can tell you, it’s clean.

Image source: The_Patriot


Image source: Waste_Coat_4506, Pixabay (not the actual photo)

There are exceptions but most people who own restaurants are horrible people. The business attracts the worst kind of people to work for because it’s easy to take advantage of people who need money, are easily replaceable and often undocumented immigrants. Sexual harassment is very common with usually no consequences. If you work for a big company that has HR then maybe you can report your handsy manager but when it’s a mom and pop type place and pop is the boss then you can either quit or deal with it. I have been lucky enough to work for a couple of really great bar owners but in my experience most of them are smarmy, greedy little shits with God complexes and bad breath that put their grubby little hands all over their staff if they can get away with it and try to squeeze as much labor out of people for the smallest amount of money and have zero appreciation for anyone.

#27 They work sick. All the time. While handling your food. Especially while handling your food.

Image source: Mundane-Gap6009, Polina Tankilevitch (not the actual photo)

#28 You should not drink fountain drinks. If you knew what the hoses inside looked like and how rarely they were cleaned you’d never touch one again.

Image source: FeebysPaperBoat, Phillip Pessar (not the actual photo)

#29 The staff is sleeping with each other.


As someone who managed restaurants for years I can confirm this. Half of my problems stemmed from drama that led back to someone on staff fucking or not fucking anymore. But to be fair it’s not just food service. I have friends who worked in retail and basically everyone there is fucking too. If it’s a mall, it’s damn near an orgy.

Image source: Telrom_1

#30 I worked at Chipotle for about a year. We did not clean the ice machine or soda machine that entire time. It honestly didn’t even cross our minds. The rest of the restaurant was spotless though so that’s good I suppose.

Image source: arieser22, Aranami (not the actual photo)

Shanilou Perera

Shanilou has always loved reading and learning about the world we live in. While she enjoys fictional books and stories just as much, since childhood she was especially fascinated by encyclopaedias and strangely enough, self-help books. As a kid, she spent most of her time consuming as much knowledge as she could get her hands on and could always be found at the library. Now, she still enjoys finding out about all the amazing things that surround us in our day-to-day lives and is blessed to be able to write about them to share with the whole world as a profession.

Got wisdom to pour?



dirty secret, food, food industry, restaurant, servers
Like deMilked on Facebook
Want more milk?
Hit like for a daily artshake!
Don't show this - I already like Demilked