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9 Gross Things Restaurants Do to Save Money

Updated: Apr. 02, 2021

You might think twice about going out to eat after reading this.

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cropped image of african american chef squeezing lemons at restaurant kitchen
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Pre-prepare foods

Timing is everything in the restaurant world. If customers have to wait forever for their food they probably won’t come back. When the dinner rush arrives chefs need to get food out to their customers in a timely manner. Some restaurants will cook food ahead of time and then heat it up. If a customer orders something that has been pre-cooked, someone may just throw it in the microwave, dress it up a little, and serve it. These are the dirty restaurant secrets the kitchen crew won’t tell you.

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dentist puts gloves

Not wearing gloves

Many restaurant workers don’t bother wearing gloves while handling food. A study done by Food Safety News found that 62 percent of restaurant workers handling raw beef didn’t wash their hands before touching other food.

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Delicious french fries and ketchup - fast food background, top view, closeup
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Combine ketchup bottles

In some areas, it’s not against the health code to marry ketchup bottles, and in areas where it isn’t allowed, the rule is rarely enforced. Think about how many people use those ketchup bottles on a daily basis. They’re not very clean and sometimes the process that some restaurants use to transfer the condiment can be unsanitary. This is the gross reason you should never, ever use the pepper shakers at restaurants.

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Shot of corner of dining table covered with white linen and with a crumpled table napkin and two sets of dinnerware arranged on opposite sides.

Not washing the linens

People are pretty messy when they eat, so washing the tablecloths every single time someone got a stain on them would really add up. Most of the time, many restaurants will just wipe them down or spot clean them.

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Waiter taking an order wearing a waistcoat in a fancy restaurant
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Sick workers

The sad truth is that employees in the restaurant industry are underpaid. That said, many of them can’t afford to miss a shift and will still come in even if they’re sick. If they don’t have the option to call out, all of the sick germs can easily be spread to the food you eat.

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Serving expired food

Throwing out unused food is a huge waste of money. Sometimes it’s easier for restaurant managers to just serve food that is past its expiration date as long as it still looks edible. This is what restaurant health inspectors wish you knew.

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Frozen meat steaks
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Don’t store food properly

Meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy aren’t always stored at the proper temperature. Freezers might malfunction or food could be left sitting out for too long. It’s expensive to throw it away, so sometimes restaurants will still serve it and hope that no one gets sick.

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The plate dishes in the kitchen waiting for cleaners in sink

Not washing dishes

Having the dishwasher running all day is very costly. Although rare, some restaurants simply give their dishes a quick rinse with some hot water if they’re in a pinch for more plates.

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Reusing snacks

Some restaurants or bars put out a bowl of pretzels or peanuts to snack on. They typically come from a much larger container that’s stored in the kitchen and at the end of the night, the leftovers are sometimes just thrown right back in. Beware that you might not be the first to have touched those snacks. Next, read about these secrets your restaurant worker isn’t telling you.