For the unversed, red flags are used as a warning of danger or bad signs about something.
If you have had even a fleeting social media presence, you must have come across the term “red flags”. It is used to depict things that one should steer clear of.
In the restaurant industry, it is non-negotiable that all aspects of the restaurant are well-kept and well-maintained. Lacking in any area is unacceptable.
However, even today, when customers are very cautious about choosing a restaurant and check each and every detail, some restaurant owners are still careless about a lot of major factors that constitute the success of a restaurant.
Let’s take a look at 10 such red flags that every customer should look out for before starting their meal at a restaurant
1. Decaying Interiors
As soon as you enter a restaurant, the first things you notice are its decor and the interiors. Imagine being greeted by peeling wallpapers, cracked ceilings, water-dripping air conditioners, run-down furniture and other such off-putting views.
This can indicate that the restaurant owners are not willing and/or interested in maintaining their restaurant. It can also be the case that they don’t have the financial capacity to make the repairs.
But, whatever the situation, it would be a good thing to exit immediately after making such disappointing observations about the interiors.
2. Smelly Cleaning Equipment
If what is supposed to be clean is in itself dirty, then that should tell you everything you need to know about the hygiene of the place.
Stinking washcloths, dirty mops or unclean spraying water show that the restaurant owners and managers could not care less about the hygiene of the restaurant and the welfare of its customers.
Smelly cleaning equipment and unwashed linens like tablecloths, napkins etc. are the red flags that you should never ignore!
3. Too Many Items On The Menu
This is now a commonly known fact that many restaurants serve food which has been frozen for days, if not weeks.
Another fact to accompany this fact is that this is more common among restaurants with multiple items on their menu.
It is not possible that every ingredient is available all the time at the restaurant. Not all dishes can be prepared at the request of the customers.
Thus, if a restaurant has an elaborate menu, trust that the food won’t be fresh. Don’t expect anything more from them.
4. Confused Staff
A confused staff is a sign of trouble behind the scenes. It is the literal job of the servers to greet and seat the customers, be aware of the menu and assist them with their orders and whatever else that they might require.
If your server is unable to answer your queries or is unsure of what to do and keeps looking at his co-workers for assistance, then it is safe to assume that the restaurant staff is severely undertrained.
Many times you might notice that the staff is disinterested towards you or is rude to you. It is a tell-tale sign that they are not treated well by the management and this in turn will impact your experience in the restaurant.
If you are a restaurant owner looking to train their staff, read this blog!
5. Misspelt Food Names On The Menu
This is an old but clever trick in the book!
You must have visited restaurants with typos in the menu and you must have laughed and let it slide. However, this is a loophole that restaurants use to get away with serving substitutes.
For example, if they spell crabs as krabs, you should know that there’s a good chance you are not being served crab.
6. Stained Utensils
One of the most off-putting factors and the biggest red flags in a restaurant is dirty utensils. Run straight out if you notice that the tableware still has food stuck to it or if the glassware is water-stained.
Think about it, if they are not bothering to wash tableware that will be used first-hand by the diners, chances are that the picture behind the scenes (kitchen) is not pretty.
7. Stale Seafood Alert
This point is for all seafood lovers, although seafood connoisseurs might be aware of this!
Nevertheless, a good way to differentiate a good seafood restaurant from a bad one is the smell of the restaurant.
It is said that fresh seafood never stinks. So, if you step into a restaurant and your nose can distinctly pick up the smell of fish then that means the stock is stale and you should make a run for it.
Another important thing to note in a seafood restaurant is their specials. If they are offering any marine fresh, ensure that the fish is available in the region or very close by. If not, then avoid having it because there is a hundred per cent chance it is not fresh.
8. Instant Service
Food takes time to cook. The only food that does not take time to cook is raw vegetables and fruits which are served in fresh and instant ready-to-cook packets.
This is an important red flag to spot! If you go to a restaurant and the food is served within a surprising time of you placing your order, don’t be happy about it. Instead, inquire with the server whether it was cooked right before being served to you or if it was defrosted and plated for you.
9. Too Many Paid Reviews (Influencers)
Influencer marketing is one of the most popular ways of marketing today. Brands hire influencers to spread the word across social media and raise awareness about their existence.
Restaurants do the same. It is a new fad that restaurants invite food bloggers or celebrities during their launch and ask them to review their restaurants. It is quite obvious that the reviews are all going to be positive and sing praises.
Read all about the marketing mistakes you should avoid while promoting your restaurant here!
10. Easily Available Tables At Rush Hour
This is an easy red flag to spot!
The number of people dining out on a daily basis has increased exponentially. In such cases, if you notice that you are able to easily get a table at a restaurant during high rush hours, that would usually be a sign that you should avoid the restaurant just like the others are.
There is absolutely no good reason for a good restaurant to be empty during rush hours.
You can use all the above-mentioned warnings while choosing a restaurant in your own city, but you should definitely use it when you are travelling and don’t know how to select a place to eat.
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