While we'd like to think all chain restaurants are clean and healthy, that isn't always the case. These workers share things you should definitely know before eating at one of these places again.
Microwaved To Death
I used to be a waitress at Applebees. I would love to tell people that the oriental chicken salad is one of the most fattening things on the menu, with almost 1500 calories. I cringed every time someone ordered it and made the comment of wanting to “eat light.” But we weren’t encouraged to tell people how fattening the menu items were unless they specifically asked.
Also, whenever someone wanted to order a “medium rare” steak, and I had to say we only make them “pink” or “no pink.” That’s because most of the kitchen is a row of microwaves. The steaks were cooked on a stove top, but then microwaved to death. Pink or no pink only referred to how microwaved to death you want your meat Source
The Epitome Of Health
Panera is pretty much just as bad for you as McDonald’s. People come in thinking they’re eating healthy, but they’re really not.
The Italian Combo used to have more than a thousand calories, but they took some stuff off so it’s 980 now. All the soups have >1000mg of sodium (Italian Combo has >2000mg or a day’s worth). A You Pick Two with Broccoli Cheddar, Frontega, and bread on the side is not significantly different from a McDouble with medium fries.
And the “fresh-squeezed lemonade” is made from cartons of concentrate and regular old faucet water. Green tea is the same Source
Beating The System
At Chipotle, the servers usually put more ingredients into the bowl version rather than the burrito version. However, you can ask for the wrap on the side when you order the bowl version for no extra cost. This way, you can make your own burrito with more ingredients for the same priceSource
Beans, Beans & More Dehydrated Beans
I worked at taco bell in the mid-nineties. The beans were dehydrated and in plastic bags like coco pebbles cereal. There were always two big pots of hot water. One pot was to add water to the beans, and the other pot was for heating the bags of ground beef, chicken, and steak. Also, I worked the closing shift. When we closed the lobby, we’d get beer and put the bottles in the ice machine. We paid for the beer by making up prices at the register and never ringing it up. When we had enough for beer we’d operate normally again. I never saw anyone do anything to the food.
I still eat taco bell Source
The molten cake that everyone seems to love is frozen. The paradise pie is frozen. If you complain that your food isn’t hot enough, it just goes into the microwave. Oh, and people used to ask for the queso recipe all the time…it’s delivered to the restaurant in a bag. The cooks would just heat it up and dump it in a skillet.
When the dishes came out of wash, there would still be wet lettuce and food particles stuck on the plates and silverware, and we’d just wipe it off. Makes me want to use plastic ware at every restaurant now.
Most of these things probably aren’t secrets though Source
Is It Really Fresh?
Used to work at red lobster, the biscuits are dry mix- mixed with water and shredded cheese. Then brushed with garlic butter. They are fattening as shit. But still delicious. **After reading the Olive Garden breadstick comment, I feel compelled to add that usually the batches are hot and fresh, but in a weirdly shaped warmer that would be hard to grab with bare hands. So don’t worry about dirty server hands on your biscuits, everyone used tongs at our restaurant.
Also, surprisingly, Crab legs/Lobster are very healthy if you don’t slather it with butter. And the crab legs are usually excellent condition. Something about how they get a good pick from their source. I served maybe one pair of yucky looking crab legs and it was only because of the barnacle thingies on the outside. Which btw, you crabby heads, doesn’t affect the inside meat really at all. It’s still amazingly delicious.
Oh I forgot: All the “fresh” fish in our area (Near Chicago… thousands of miles from any f—ing ocean) is flash frozen, not fresh. That’s bull—-. But for some reason frozen and fresh frozen are different.. don’t know why exactly. Exceptions are made for a few fish, but all the salmon,mahi, etc… frozen.
And their “wood grill” was the exact same grill as before except some smoked woodchips are added to the bottom to allow some smoke to get up into the food. They act like they throw chunks of cedar into a wood fire place in the commercials Source
A Ground Breaking Discovery
I just learned yesterday that if you order something that comes with dressing at Arby’s, they’ll ask you if you want Honey Mustard or Barbecue. If you want Ranch, you have to specifically ask for it or they won’t tell you that they have it. The logic behind this is that Ranch is more expensive than the other two options.
Not ground-breaking, but I’m glad I asked her Source
Just Don’t Do It
I also used to work at Applebees, and can confirm that steaks are microwaved. At the location I was at the cooks threw them on the grill after the microwave to get char marks on them. Seriously guys, don’t order steaks there Source
Ring Ring, Ronald McDonald
I work at McDonald’s. I’m f—ing sick of people asking me if I can make a suggestion that we should have the Big Tasty all year round, or that we should try and bring in a new type of McFlurry. I’m like ‘Yeah, I’ll just go give Ronald a call and let him know..’. The only person I can tell is my manager and he won’t give a crap Source
One Hell Of A Place
I worked at Raising Cane’s, and the chicken was never frozen, marinated, and hand battered and fried to order. The toast you can order buttered on both sides, and you can substitute just about anything for anything. They would shell out for the best longest french fries of the cut, usually getting 3-4 fries per potato, but they would get broken frozen in the bag so I didn’t see the point. It was insanely clean in the kitchen too, you could do surgery in the kitchen after we left at night Source
My best friend works at a local fancy burger restaurant (with future hopes of becoming a chain) that charges people a $1 for ketchup because the ketchup is prepared “fresh” every day and is organic.
It comes out of a can. My friend doesn’t charge people the extra dollar for ketchup anymore, as a way of sticking it to the stingy ass owners Source
Get It Through Your Head
I guess this is the opposite of a secret I wish everyone knew. It’s a truth I wish more people understood. There is no “Secret Menu” at Starbucks. There is no recipe for drinks called a Clint Eastwood, Undertow, Tear Drop, Tuxedo, Bloody Tuxedo, or my most recent favorite “Butter Beer.” Ordering these drinks makes you look like a douche and you’ve got a good chance of getting decaf from your annoyed barista. If you want one of these drinks, just order it by ingredient Source
The Best Of The Best
I used to work for Chick-Fil-A back in high school. Practically everything but the waffle fries and maybe the chicken salad (someone else confirm this) were made in the store. We breaded the chicken, we assembled the cool wraps, and I would cut countless boxes of fresh lemons, squeeze them in a machine and add sugar every shift. There is not a thing on the menu that I would not eat. Moreover, the employees would get to take home the cool wraps if there were any at the end of the night Source
The same thing goes for the Southern foodchain Zaxbys. Everything is made in store. The salads are fresh, the chicken is freshly breaded by hand as well. I would have to cut lemons each morning and replace them in between shifts; same with the tea. Zaxbys is so good. My god. I think the only things that aren’t breaded in store or processed elsewhere is the fried pickles, cheese bites, fried mushroom. Otherwise, it’s amazing and the food will make you fat Source
Breadsticks For Days
The servers are in charge of making bread sticks at Olive Garden. I can’t remember exactly how it worked but all the soup/salad/bread sticks were done by the servers. Two servers would usually be scheduled to be in charge of those things. I can’t remember if the breadsticks were frozen or fresh…but I think they were fresh. As soon as they came out of the oven they were slathered in butter and salted, and they usually didn’t last long. So chances are the breadsticks you get at Olive Garden are gonna be fresh and tasty. We were told that a table gets one bread stick per person and then one extra…this did not help curb massive consumption of bread sticks.
Once we had to throw out a bunch of old boxes…one of which I managed to take home. I ate bread sticks for at least a month…it was glorious Source
The “delivery fee” is not a tip that goes to delivery drivers Source
Protip: When you ask your server for something, add “when you have a second”. E.g. “Can I have a refill when you have a second?” 9 times out of 10 the basic human empathy you showed by acknowledging that you personally are not the centre of this very busy, very stressed worker’s existence, will prompt them to put your needs as high up on their list as they can. It always worked on me. F—ing witchcraft Source
Just started working at Starbucks. I accidentally brewed decaf instead of regular. After fixing the problem, I notified the girl training me that I wasted two scoops of the decaf and she laughed and said, “You should have just left it. I do that all the time — on purpose. The customers can’t tell the difference” Source
Failure Of 5 Guys
So, I have a friend who works at 5 guys, which is one of the top fastest growing restaurants in the US in the last few years. I have had heard the most awful stories about how they treat their “managers” as in make them work > 50 hours a week with wages barely 10-20% higher than minimum wage, with 0 benefits, 0 vacation days, 0 bonuses, and the entire time, they are told that they are next in line for promotion. My friend has been there for almost 2.5 years with a total of approximately a 10% pay increase over that entire time with no promotion. It’s too hard for me to explain all rest of the details of the stories i’ve heard, but basically they are able to make tons and tons of money by treating their middle management and lower employees like garbage, and giving them the opportunity to quit if they feel that they are being treated unfairly. I know a lot of places do this, but it still doesn’t make it ok. Anyone else have a similar experience with them Source
Worked at Red Lobster as a stocker. The biscuits are baked then brushed with an oily coating to give them most of their flavor. Also you have no idea how God damn good those things are the second they’re outta the oven Source
Not Too Shabby
I was a shift manager at a Pizza Hut when I was in college, and I would still eat there. The general manager took cleanliness seriously, and we followed the rules quite closely.
In regards to the salad bar, most items from the previous day would be kept on the salad bar, but each container was changed out in the morning. You would put enough of the fresh item in to make a full container then dump the older stuff on top. If the items from the previous day were slimy or no longer good, you threw them away. You weren’t expected to put out shabby or old product. Items we knew wouldn’t get used in the day wouldn’t get filled all the way.
The produce for both the pizzas and the salad bar were cut fresh daily. We would often cut more in the late afternoon, and some of that would carry over to the next day to get us started. I never saw anything served that shouldn’t have been.
The pan pizza dough was made fresh every day. The breadsticks and all other pizza dough come in frozen. They actually changed over to frozen stuffed crust pizza while I was working there. It was better when it was fresh, but it went largely unnoticed. Now, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
The Pizza Hut I worked at was safe; I can’t speak as to any of the others. I know that I’ve gotten bad pizza from other Pizza Huts. When it happens, I usually just let it go. Occasionally, if it is bad enough, I’ll call them on it. When I worked for them, the worst thing you could do was call the number on the box, as it generated a complaint that higher ups saw. We handled all our complaints in house in an attempt to never give customers cause to call the number on the box. I’ve used that knowledge to my benefit when necessary Source