IHOP Agrees That Workers Shouldn't Scrub Ceiling Tiles Directly Over Your Food

We get fewer gross food stories than you might imagine here at Consumerist, and this one made us cringe. Reader Richard saw a maintenance person scrubbing down some ceiling tiles while standing on a food prep counter… that was in use. Yeah. Ew.

Went to Ihop yesterday, here is the feed back I just sent them through their website.

We went to this location on my birthday. After ordering my wife (sitting across from me was staring into the food prep counter area) asked me “What’s he doing?” I looked, an employee was standing on a ladder scrubbing the acoustic ceiling tiles! I turned back to my wife, who then said “I don’t think I can eat here.” The waitress walked by and asked the person cleaning the ceiling over warming counter/pass through to step down off the counter (he had moved to standing on the counter as he was cleaning) she then brought our food down from the counter above and set it right where he had been standing! The hostess/manager walked into the prep area at time time.

My wife and I got up saying no way would we eat there. The manager who we believe had already been alerted to our conversation by my wife cried out “He wasn’t cleaning!” to which my wife told the manager “Don’t lie to us! We watched him scrubbing it and spraying cleaner over our food and the counter!” The manager then told the cleaning person to move to the other end of the food prep counter to clean the ceiling there! It’s only 20 feet at most and more likely 15 or less so he still would have been endangering dropping dirt, dust, mold, mildew etc. into the food product in addition to all the open bins built into the counter he had doubtless already contaminated.

The manager volunteered to remake our food. I told the manager we would never be eating in her restaurant again. We walked up to the register as we were having this discussion and ask for them to let us pay for our teas so we could leave to which they replied not to worry about it.

I have seen disgusting conditions before, but for the restaurant to create them itself and the manager to outright try to LIE to us was inexcusable! If I hadn’t been so shocked at the time I should have used my wife’s phone to videotape the action and share it with the world! I certainly hope you take a long hard look at that location and the staff employed there.

Richard soon wrote back and shared a handwritten note that the IHOP’s General Manager sent in response to his complaint.

It’s a really nice, really honest response.

As severely stupid as the manager’s mistake was, if we received an apology letter like that, we might actually eat there again. The general manager was obviously as horrified as Richard was!