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How to Spot a Bad Restaurant

I love going to new restaurants. It’s a real treat when we are able to land on a treasure.  Most of the restaurants that we go to are really solid C+/B- style restaurants.  They’re reasonable all the way around, but nothing’s outstanding either way.   I do have to admit that I check out their restaurant equipment, too – it’s a bit of a habit.

Every once in a while, we stumble upon a restaurant that is remarkably bad.  The care isn’t there, the love isn’t there, or something is just so far out of place that we never want to return. Sometimes we can spot the warning signs early and avoid a bad dining experience. Here’s what we like to look for.

  1. Funky odors

Occasionally, the scents of the restaurant are going to make it outside.  You can often get a hint of this when a place cooks a lot of bread, or if you drive by a place that grills.  If something sours your tummy and there’s no paper mill in the area, just stay away. Thankfully, this is a rare problem.

  1. Read the Reviews

Reading reviews is sometimes a dubious practice, because there will often restaurants who pad their reviews toward the ecstatically good.  Look up your prospective restaurant and see what the overall impression is across multiple sites – certain themes will make themselves known when you take a look.

  1. Personnel

If the people who are working at the restaurant don’t seem to care, there’s a high likelihood that attitude will have spread throughout the entire place. The person might be just a simple bad apple, but if there’s more than one take heed.

  1. Look at the health inspection

Health inspectors come by and see if restaurant owners are living up to federal, state, and local standards. These standards include guidelines about temperature, sanitation, hygiene, and more. We try to stay with places that are rated 95% or higher.

  1. Check out the dirt

If you’re looking around and you feel like you’re in a dirty dining room, like the place hasn’t been vacuumed in a while, like there’s a lot of items which haven’t been washed, you are probably in a bad restaurant.

  1. Trust your gut

You’re the expert on what a bad restaurant is.  If you go into the place and you feel that it’s a bad place, it’s a bad place.  First impressions mean a lot, so go with your gut.

Landing in a bad restaurant is a waste of time and money. Fortunately, with the power of social media, you have every chance to warn others about the experience – and with your warning, the owner might get the idea to shape up.

Thanks go out to Chris Blakeley on Flickr for the Creative Commons use of the picture.

2014-11-26 00:00:00
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