You can’t keep it in the kitchen: two examples, one from Golden Corral.

Golden Corral will be my second example. The first example of “You Can’t Keep It In The Kitchen” was from my recent vacation.

We had just crossed the bridge to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and were looking for a quaint, tourist-y little place for lunch. We found it: it was lovely.

If it really is “Moms (sic) Cooking” then stop yelling at Mom. Jeez. Mom totally doesn’t need that.
If it really is “Moms (sic) Cooking” then stop yelling at Mom. Jeez. Mom totally doesn’t need that.

I forgot to take a photo of it (I was completely off duty), but did take a picture from the porch where we sat, enjoying the view of the little motel across the street and Lake Huron and Mackinac Island beyond. You can infer from the “Hillside House” sign in the photo the delightful one-of-a-kind vacationy experience we had. You’ll just have to imagine the “Whitefish Reuben” sandwich (with cole slaw instead of sauerkraut). It was awesome.

But the owner had yelled at the cook, and the server was all nervous-sad, and told us why the owner had yelled at the cook, and it almost spoiled it all. We felt bad for our server, we felt bad for the unseen cook, we sensed a tension that hung over the meal like secondhand smoke.

Lesson One: As a manager, you can’t expect your mood not to affect the customers. It gets out there. Fake it if you have to, and don’t yell at the cook.

Second example comes to my attention from friend-of-the-blog Adam. He sent this USA Today article about Golden Corral’s new PR nightmare: photos of the gross kitchen and gross stacks of gross dishes we all could have guessed were back there—but now social media and (because they use social media as a source now) USA Today have made me incredibly, disgustingly aware of.

Yeah, you don’t go to Golden Corral thinking you’ve come to the schmanciest place in town, but this is ickier than you were even imagining.
Yeah, you don’t go to Golden Corral thinking you’ve come to the schmanciest place in town, but this is ickier than you were even imagining.

There are no secrets.

Back in the day, if your kitchen was out of sight of the customer, there was a certain amount of taco-licking and lettuce-stepping that probably happened. How blissful the dining public’s ignorance was back then. But not now. And if your kitchen ever looks like that Golden Corral mess, we’re all in big trouble. Because your most recently disgruntled staff member has a camera phone and access to USA Today.

Not even a chocolate fountain can compete with that kind of publicity.

Social media is going to keep the restaurant business more honest than ever, and devoted to its stated standards of cleanliness and decency.

Now: just don’t yell at the cook.