Current And Former Restaurant Employees Reveal Little-Known Secrets (25+ Pics)

Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at your favorite restaurants? From the kitchens of bustling city eateries to the serene settings of countryside bistros, current and former restaurant staffers are lifting the lid on industry mysteries.

Check out this collection of over 25 revealing restaurant secrets that promise to change the way you see, and perhaps order, the next time you’re out. Be prepared; some of these little-known restaurant secrets might just leave you in utter disbelief.


Arby’s roast beef is a compressed block of beef scraps. the block of scraps comes sitting in a bag of beef broth and is warmed until it’s ready to be served.


I worked in a fancy country club ($25K initiation fee, then $7K/year in the 90s). A slice of “homemade” cheesecake was $7 each on the menu. One of the sous chefs stopped by the Giant Food grocery store every day on the way to work to pickup a whole cheesecake for about $5.


Ice machines are RARELY cleaned out. Like almost NEVER. Bugs, dirt, food particles, whatever. At two previous restaurant jobs, I felt bad that customers were getting gross ice (both places had a single machine) and mentioned it to my managers at the time. They both brushed it off as having better things to do with my time, so I used to “accidentally” kick the plug out of the wall in the evenings, come in the next day, and find a half-melted ice machine.

I was stuck cleaning it, but it was worth it since I felt better about the ice being served. We had to use ice from the store down the street for the rest of the day, but it wasn’t like it cost the restaurants much money. One bartender told me he would “accidentally” drop/break a glass into an ice machine to serve the same purpose if the management wasn’t being cool about it. Broken glass = scoop out and dump all the ice, and might as well clean the thing since it’s empty.


Back when I was a fry cook, some customers thought they were being slick and would order unsalted fries to make sure they got fresh ones. We cooks would just put already salted fries back into the fryer to wash the salt off.


Veggie burgers were grilled on the same grill as the meat, and were often cooked in the grease of other burgers.


Maybe not a “secret secret” but just not something people realized.At Wendy’s, the cooked burgers that don’t get sold, those go into a pot in a refrigerator, and they get made into TOMORROW’s chili.The crispy chicken that doesn’t get sold today? Those go into a pot in the fridge and those get made into TOMORROW’s crispy chicken salads.Back when Wendy’s had a salad bar … the burger buns that are going stale at the end of a day? Those got made into tomorrow’s garlic bread on the salad bar.None of this is unsafe, all of this is approved by the department of health, and none of this is a trade secret … but I bet you didn’t realize that.


Papa John’s employees are always high. Always.


We buy tiny wine bottles for $7 and sell for $37. Spaghetti Factories house wine is Franzia box wine.


The only thing that is fresh and healthy, not pre-made, bagged and/or frozen at like all fast food places. Is the tomatoes.


Health inspection is really kind of a sham. Health inspectors tend to inspect all the restaurants in an area around the same time. When the inspector shows up at one restaurant the manager will typically notify the other restaurants in the area.

I worked at Taco Bell. When we got a call from the BK down the street that the health inspector was there, we knew he would be showing up at our place sometime in the next week. We would call in extra people to do a deep cleaning of everything. It did not matter that most of the year every time we hosed out under the fryer or food prep lines, we drowned hundreds of roaches. When the health inspector showed up everything was clean, so we still had a 100% on our health inspection.


I work at Taco Bell, and you DO NOT want to see how the meat comes into the store. The meat we use for the tacos and other things of the sort comes in big plastic bags labeled “Suitable for human consumption”. They smell absolutely awful until we put the seasonings in. Yeah, don’t go to Taco Bell.


Not gonna say which chain but the one i used to work at was very clean and well managed. The only real secret we had was…well… Nobody was drinking the sodas they thought they were. We didn’t use regular syrup in the fountain machines. If you ordered a coke, you got “panda cola”. If you ordered a 7-up you got “panda lime-up”.Sorry…


I worked at McDonald’s, and the McRib if left out raw, melts into a liquid


Zoup! The Fresh Soup Company: All the soups are frozen. They come in frozen and if there are leftovers at the end of the night they are refrozen and served another day. Pretty standard for fast – casual dining, but I found it unusual considering “fresh soup” is in the name.


Most of our desserts are purchased from the Wal-Mart directly across the street then marked up 500%. For the price of a couple of pieces of cheesecake, you could just go across the street to Wal-Mart after your meal and buy a whole one.We just drizzle a bit of chocolate or raspberry sauce on it so that it doesn’t look exactly like the one from Wal-Mart.Also, a smoker outside the building doesn’t mean your barbecue is fresh. Most of it is frozen. Sometimes we just throw logs on there so it looks and smells like we’re barbecuing. Homey, we made that two days ago. That’s just wood you’re smelling.


My brother services coffee machines in restaurants. Never, *EVER* get coffee from McDonalds.Ever.


Candy man here. We left chocolate out in display cases for months on end. When my friends came by to the store I told them to avoid it at all costs.


I saw a cook at Ihop mess up an omelet and put the wrong sauce on it, he just washed it off in the sink and than tossed it back on the grill.


Whenever we have ingredients that is going to expire or just expired, we tell our cashiers to subtly “promote” certain foods when a customer seems unsure about what to buy.


At KFC, we were supposed to change the fryer oil every couple days. Our penny-pinching manager had us change it every couple weeks. We’d just skim off the ‘floaters’ and cover it at night.


I worked at a fried chicken joint during my teenage years. The owner refused to let us throw away chicken pieces that have gone bad to where you’d gagged if you smell them.We battered them up, fried em and served them to unsuspecting customers.


McDonald’s tea is just Lipton with 4 cups of sugar. Made in the morning right after the coffee.


I’m not fast food, but I work at an Outback, and none of the servers practice anything like proper sanitation with the bread coming from the bread oven. No one has time to wash hands and use tongs and everything when grabbing bread, often even if you were just offloading dirty dishes at the dish pit. And speaking of dishes, our dishwasher only works properly maybe 1/3 of the time, so the dishes you’re eating on?

Those were probably run-through dishes, came out still dirty, and were just wiped down with the same towel we’ve been using all night. Then there’s the ice machine. The last time I saw it properly cleaned was well over a year ago when we found a serious black mold infestation in it, and I had to scrub it out by hand, with basically just hot water and a weak sanitizer.


Friend of mine used to work at Subway, aparently the chicken comes in vacum packed from Thailand with a 2 year sell by date.


Don’t eat the mayo! Ask for it fresh! A hair in your food is probably not from the head! The hand-washing signs displayed are to make the public feel safe, the workers don’t actually wash their hands as much as they should. If something other than the original ingredients falls into the food 99% will not notice, no reason to waste food ($) because somebody “Might” complain. A complaint only leads to half of the food wasted.I still eat fast food.


KFC worker here. Our gravy base is made of the stuff we scrape off the inside of the deep fryer. Yum.


I used to work at Wendy’s, and the chili is the worst. It’s saved for up to two days, made with ground-up patties, microwaved for 7 minutes, and sometimes the patties used are the ones left over from the day before. Which then get ground up and microwaved. I want to vomit just thinking about it.


Nate Armbruster

Nate Armbruster is a stand-up comedian and writer based in Chicago who is likely writing a joke as you read this. Find him online at