Chain Restaurant Secrets That Will Gross You Out Forever

Anyone that’s worked for a restaurant chain has horror stories about the food service industry. Whether it’s bugs where there really shouldn't be bugs, food falling on the floor, unsanitary practices, or a lack of overall cleanliness, there’s always something hiding in the kitchen of your favorite chain restaurant, something gross that might keep you from ever dining there again. We’ve compiled a list of gross things that routinely happen to food in restaurant chains.

We know that all franchise restaurants are not created equal. Some places are staffed by an awesome crew that does everything in their power to give you the best food they can while maintaining a clean work environment. A lot of other restaurants are staffed by a health inspector’s nightmare, however. The dirty little chain restaurant secrets on this list cover everything from pizza kitchens to food trucks. These gross food stories take the cake. Seriously, there’s a story on here that’s about gross cake.

Most of the anecdotes on this list aren’t for the faint of heart, so don’t read it before you go to your favorite burger place. And if you do, don’t look in the kitchen - at best, you'll get a free coupon. At worst, you'll get your hungry heart broken by the gross things they do to your food.
Photo: zigazou76 / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

  • Everyone Working There Is Sick

    A 2015 study from the Center for Research and Public Policy for Alchemy Systems found that over half of restaurant workers (51%) "frequently" or "always" work when they are sick. Which means they are infecting everything you eat with their gross germs. Why? For one, most restaurant workers don't get paid sick days. If they don't show up, they lose out on wages. Beyond that, the study found that many said they come in while sick because they don't want to let their team down. You, on the other hand, they're less concerned about.
  • It's Not Called the OLD Spaghetti Factory for Nothing

    Reddit user koma0029 filled us in on Old Spaghetti Factory's secret recipe for Vesuvius, the chain's signature spicy pasta dish. If you want to make it at home, all you have to do is mash together unused portions of chicken, pork, and beef from the previous 6-7 days. Don't forget to cover it with week-old hot sauce. Bon appetite! 
  • Perkins, Where the Eggs Don't Smell

    Thanks to a spy at Perkins Restaurant and Bakery, we know that the scrambled eggs come from a five-gallon bucket of mixed eggs that sits in the kitchen. You'd think the egg bucket would be tossed at the end of the day, but no, more scrambled eggs are added, filling it back up for the next day. The only time a bucket is disposed of? When the kitchen manager thinks the eggs are beginning to smell. 
  • Is Eating at Papa John's Considered Eating Local?

    It would never cross our minds to eat off the "local menu" at Papa John's, but if you like meat that's been swimming in it's own juices for weeks, Reddit user mathee-us thinks you should try it out. 
  • Frozen Meat Logs Anyone?

    Even though the Subway spy has deleted their Reddit profile, the fact still remains that Subway ships their steak as a "slimy" frozen meat log. Eat fresh!
  • Reuse, Recycle, Rebarf

    Everyone likes going to the movies and everyone wants to recycle, but the moment you combine those two things everyone freaks out. According to joeythehamster, Cinemark Theaters has a habit of washing hot dogs and then soaking them overnight to rehydrate (do hotdogs need to be hydrated?), as well as cleaning and reusing collectible cups that were abandoned in the theater.