This Steak & Shake Is A Pigsty

We’ve never been to a Steak & Shake, and Cal’s behind-the-scenes footage of one of their restaurants in Indiana makes us think we’ll be saying that for a long time. In his intro to the footage, he claims they were so understaffed that he was able to walk into the back of the restaurant and take photos, and then return later with a video camera. We wonder if he knew someone who worked there, but that’s not really the point. The point is the shake-making area looks like babies vomited all over it. We can only imagine the horror that begins at night when all the people are gone and the roaches have their nightly dairy & syrup feast.

“360 Steak N Shake” [] (Thanks to Eric!)


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  1. The Stork says:

    To be honest, nothing will ever stop me from eating at Steak ‘n Shake.

  2. Savvy-faire says:

    Actually, that makes it sound kind of cute: I can totally picture the roaches whooping it up in their tiny, high-pitched little voices.

    …Wall-e has ruined me.

  3. nrich239 says:

    The only time we ever went to Steak N shake was about 3am and after the 2nd trip of giving everyone diarrhea, we refused to go there ever again.

    The little overpriced greek diner didn’t make us sick at least.

  4. hills says:

    I’m a Hoosier – and whenever I’m “Back Home Again in Indiana” I will always make a trip to Steak-n-Shake – love it!

  5. Mayor McRib says:

    @The Stork: 100% Agreed.
    Maybe I should just start covering my eyes and not read anymore. Every week Consumerist ruins one of my most sacred things. First you took my Vitamin Water that made me feel healthy. Next it was Carl’s Jr./Hardees. Now you are coming for Steak n’ Shake. Oh the humanity!

    Ignorance is full of bliss and Orange Freezes.

  6. Youthier says:

    I am curious as to what time those pics were taken. Our local S&S is pretty efficient from the hours of 11am-7pm. It’s okay from 7pm-11pm. After that, all hell breaks lose. My friends and I used to eat there 4-5 times a week after midnight and we were rarely charged for a full meal and regularly got our own drink refills from behind the counter. And we weren’t the only ones.

    Also, a lot of that mess looks like shake splatter.

    Any restaurant open 24 hours (which, I think most S&S’s are) is going to be dirtier because there’s no time to shut everything down and clean.

  7. GavinEstecado says:

    Oh, what’s that I taste? The vomit in the back of my mouth. Never again, Steak n’ Shake…

  8. lawnmowerdeth says:

    The ones I’ve been to in St. Louis are very well kept, and I’ve always had nothing but good service at them. Looks like a case of poor management.

    And the chili is awesome.

  9. BrianneG78 says:

    When I worked there 12 years ago my Steak ‘n Shake was nearly always spotless unless we were in the throes of a dinner rush. Even though it was open 24 hours, the majority of the cleaning happened in the dead hours of 2 – 5AM. I’m sure every restaurant is different though.

    I still try to go every time I’m in an area that has one. Steakburgers are yummy.

  10. DoubleEcho says:

    We have one in Erie, PA and I don’t see what the hype is all about. The fries are too damn small, and I can get a better burger and shake at Eat ‘N Park or, hell, even Friday’s for less money. And at least at Friday’s the french fries would be larger than a toothpick.

  11. JN2 says:

    These photos make me appreciate Denny’s that much more.

    Not enough to go and eat at Denny’s, but to appreciate them that much more.

  12. bombaxstar says:

    goddamn i love steak ‘n shake.

    the ones in southern illinois have always been good for me…

    cape girardeau, missouri…not so much.

  13. Cocotte says:

    Just for the record, milkshake machines can generate a LOT of splatter. While it’s busy you just clean the blades after making a shake, and wipe the machine down later.

  14. Yoooder says:

    I’ve eaten there a couple times, and it’s not much above any other greasehole fast food, except the one I’ve been to is usually slow. The last time I ate there I sat at the bar, and watched them work. The place wasn’t in bad shape, not was the staff unfriendly or unclean, but the whole operation just left me feeling turned off.

    Maybe it was watching them take little 1/4 cup meat patties and smooshing and spreading them until they were about 4′ round and calling it a steak burger. Honestly, White Castle sliders may have more meat on them.

  15. Mayor McRib says:

    It’s pretty safe to say that anyone from East Central Illinois knows what takehomeasak means.

  16. CatOnMyHead says:

    There are two Steak & Shakes near me. One is clean, bright, friendly, fast, and packed around the clock. The other (in a much more affluent neighborhood, to boot) never feels clean, they get my order wrong pretty much every time, and the only people there are soccer dads feeding the team after practice.

  17. Orv says:

    @DoubleEcho: Yeah, I don’t get their fries. It’s like they opened a can of potato straws and dumped them onto your plate. Good shakes, though.

  18. @bombaxstar: I was raised on southern Illinois’ Steak n’ Shakes. Specifically, the Mt. Vernon one.

    Now I want some cheese fries.

  19. petrarch1612 says:

    I like steak n shake. I really wish they would open up a store in Oregon. This is surprising because they are usually clean.

  20. grspec says:

    Steak and Shakes in MO are horrible. The service at each and every one (ok maybe not all) is bad, you may or may not get what you order and the food is overpriced. If you want great burgers and service find a Culvers.

  21. Ein2015 says:

    From what I remember, Steak & Shake doesn’t close. (At least, the ones around me don’t close.) So they’re usually really understaffed at night. And there’s always somebody there to swat away the “nighttime roaches”… ;)

  22. bobosgirl says:

    Yuck- has anyone called the health department???

  23. unpolloloco says:

    I don’t get how blurry pictures of shake splatter show that a restaurant is a pigsty……..especially when the splatter is next to the shake mixers……

  24. maneki neko says:

    I couldn’t figure out where in Indiana this Steak ‘n Shake was. I seriously doubt it’s my local ones, because they are always clean and have good service.

    @hillsrovey: You haven’t had the Indiana experience until you’ve been to a Steak n’ Shake completely drunk at 3 in the morning. It always seems weird to me that people who aren’t from the Midwest have almost never heard of Steak n’ Shake, and sometimes don’t even believe me that it’s a real restaurant!

  25. Jesse says:


    Steak & Shake is nearly completely void in the upper midwest. I guess Runza makes up for that.

  26. snoop-blog says:

    I hope it’s not the steak n shake in T.H.

    Anyone else a die hard skyline chilli fan?

  27. APFPilot says:

    Does anyone know which one this is? I ate at the one in Seymour a couple of weeks ago. On a related note I drive by their corporate headquarters on my way to work everyday.

  28. xwildebeestx says:

    Ugh. Steak N Shake makes me queasy just driving by. The ones in Terre Haute, IN and Decatur, IL especially.

  29. hwyengr says:

    Oh, man. I haven’t opened a Steak ‘n Shake menu since ’98.

    Frisco Melt, small cheese fries and Cookies ‘n Cream shake, please.

  30. Superawesomerad says:

    Former Michigander here who just went to Steak ‘n’ Shake last night (Ann Arbor location) for the first time in years. The place was dirty as hell, there was nothing separating the Smoking and Non-Smoking sections, our food sat in the serving window for ten minutes while our waitress disappeared out the back, and we had to wait an additional fifteen minutes for our shakes for reasons unknown (our waitress’s explanation was “there’s a thing”). We also witnessed several heated arguments between the waitstaff and the kitchen workers. Very uncomfortable, wouldn’t recommend it again.

  31. vitonfluorcarbon says:

    Steak and Shakes are great fast food restaurants, but for some reason it really seems to be hit or miss if they are clean or not. It seems like a lot more of a crapshoot than other restaurant chains. Perhaps Steak and Shake doesn’t have district managers who come in to see that the restaurant is up to standards?

    A clean Steak and Shake is hard to beat for the burgers and shakes.

  32. synergy says:

    I hadn’t heard of Steak ‘n Shake until I went to college in South Bend. My husband, not from Indiana, started to live for a trip to a SNS when he came to visit me. :D He nearly had an orgasm when he saw one in Austin a few months ago. SNS comes to Texas!

  33. Orv says:

    @Superawesomerad: I used to live in Ann Arbor. Some of the locals called it “Steak & Wait”. It always took forever to get my food there. I mean, I don’t expect fast food from a place like that, but it was a long wait even by short-order standards.

  34. Weirdsmobile says:

    I think the problem here is not so much Steak & Shake but Indiana itself, the Midwest’s own West Virginia.

  35. chiggers says:

    @Weirdsmobile: So this one store is indicative of the general tidiness of all Hoosiers?

  36. lotsotech says:

    I worked at a S&S years ago and there was plenty of gross stuff (like most fast food places), but I don’t think I’d be worrying about ice cream splattered around the shake machine.

  37. Raving Rabbid says:

    I just want them in Arizona.

    *gets out pen*

  38. HogwartsAlum says:

    @Mayor McRib:

    Orange Freezes are….nah, I just can’t do it. :)

    In SW MO Steak & Shakes are everywhere. I can’t get into their burgers after eating at Backyard Burger, mmmmm. But their shakes are awesome, and they put REAL cherry syrup in the cherry Cokes.

  39. snoop-blog says:

    @Weirdsmobile: at least our state can balance a buget and actually make a profit. What is ours again? over on billion? sure beats having to raise taxes just to still end up in a deficit.

  40. snoop-blog says:

    *over one billion

  41. ludwigk says:

    I like In-N-Out. Completely revealed kitchen area, always very clean. Hard-working, enthusiastic staff, and always great food.

  42. eveywiechert says:

    Yeah, so, that’s the one in my town. Only one in IN at 4850 anything. And that’s the one I usually go to. That’s pretty gross, but I suppose I haven’t been there in forever. But still, I’m kinda surprised that they don’t get a lot of citations (I think).

  43. vitonfluorcarbon says:

    Anyone want to open a Steak and Shake franchise? It only takes a net worth of $1.5 Million and $500,000 in liquid assets. I’ve looked into other franchise opportunities and don’t know of anyone else who requires so much. I can’t afford the other franchises and I sure as heck couldn’t afford a S&S. If you want a franchise, you have to be interviewed by the corporate staff – seems kind of excessive for wanting to open a “greasy spoon….”

  44. alstein says:

    The one in Greensboro is awful as well.
    I think the Circle K folks tend to love those places- but they act like Flanders kids from my experience, so that’s hardly an endorsement.

  45. forgottenpassword says:

    NOOOOOOO!!!! Not my precious steak n shake!!!!!!

    Steak n shake has the best burger I have ever tasted! Albeit a bit greasy. *shrug*

    My only complaint with their burgers is that they are too greasy…. so much so that if you dont start eating it immediately (I bring mine home on the way from work)… the grease sometimes soaks the bun. And they put the pickle planks crossways like an X on the burger…. thats just insane!!!! ALso…. I truely HATE their toothpick-thin fries…. fries need to be meaty. I have to actually stop somewhere else to get fries.

    The only thing they have that I like there are the burgers.

    And I can agree that they are sometimes understaffed. I stopped by at about 5:30 am one morning & there was only one person visible inside the whole restaurant & the back door was open. ANd I sat at the drive thru for almost 10 minutes & noone ever took my order…. so I went to wendy’s instead (I hadnt been to wendy’s in a very long time & had a hankering for it.)

  46. jstonemo says:

    @grspec: Culvers FTW!!! Voted best chain burger in the USA in 2007.

  47. synergy says:

    I know the apostrophe might screw with your tags and title, but it’s Steak ‘n Shake, not Steak & Shake. Sorry, I know, but it’s on their logo.

  48. Marshfield says:

    We don’t have Steak and Shake’s out here in Washington state. In fact, there are none west of Texas.

    I guess that’s a good-news/bad-news thing, based on the topic of this post and all the comments of people who love it anyway

  49. TechnoDestructo says:


    Sounds like someone hasn’t seen “Joe’s Apartment.”

  50. yagisencho says:

    Frankly, unless that’s what the place looked like at store opening, I’m neither surprised nor disgusted. Restaurants can become filthy over the course of normal operating hours, especially during meal ‘rush’ times. Ideally, employees should be wiping down surfaces and machines throughout the day. But to me, the photos showed nothing out of the ordinary.

  51. Breach says:


  52. AllenK says:

    I used to work at restaurant,and that doesn’t look too bad. Maybe they were just extremely busy?? I love S&S myself.

    I can tell you that the later you go in one,the worse it’s likely to be.

  53. xnihilx says:

    I live in Northwest Indiana. Any idea WHICH Steak & Shake this is??? EWWW. I haven’t eaten in a S&S in over a year but occasionally I get a Frisco Melt and banana shake jones. YUCK!

  54. exvaxman says:

    When we used to travel when there were no “scarf&barfs” in my area my better two thirds would demand that we travel hours out of our way to visit one. Fortunatly a local person got a franchise with the city giving them an exemption from a few of the local laws – with a review in a year. I have to admit, the extra 15 minutes travel time to get to the local one is well worth it. best fries of any fast food place, and not having to deal with my wife on vacations spending an extra two days diverting to get her to a Steak&Shake as she was used to in her childhood is a blessing.

  55. Kimbeegrin says:

    I work in a restaurant with a similar shake/syrup set-up. Sometimes things can get messy when you’re in a rush and have pain in the ass stupid tourists asking a billion stupid questions while you’re trying to make three large shakes. It can get icky, but not this icky. I guess if they were understaffed they’d have no one to wipe up the mess if they were busy, but come on even in the deepest heat of ice cream making, my counter never looks that gross.

  56. Raziya says:

    I just went to a Steal N’ Shake for the first time ever today, ironically, and it was awesome. :D

  57. Charles says:

    I can’t say for sure, but that looks incredibly similar to a Steak n Shake I worked at in Indiana. The managers are constantly pressured by corporate to cut hours to the point that they are routinely understaffed. Then there is a dinner rush and everyone is scrambling around working multiple stations. You’re never going to have time to clean when you’re doing twice the work you are supposed to and the restaurant is full. Also, if he did take those pictures shortly after a rush, they probably just haven’t gotten around to cleaning yet.

    My station was always much cleaner though.

  58. GeoffinAround says:

    @Weirdsmobile: Anyone that lives in this part of America knows that Ohio is the West Virginia of the Midwest, not Indiana.

  59. Vulcaex says:

    The Steak ‘n Shakes in central Florida are usually pretty good but can occasionally get a bit messy during rushes.

    I remember one of the local stores vanished for awhile. Just the sign an empty lot and a notice that said “closed for remodeling”. Those people get serious about their remodeling!

  60. reiyaku says:

    will never eat at steak & shake… i ordered a regular chocolate milkshake once and it came with a beef patty at the bottom… made me sick as hell… should’ve sued em

  61. opal says:

    @synergy: That’s an interesting abbreviation for what I logically assume is “short”…

    I worked the drive through of a SnS the summer before college but usually also had to pitch in on making desserts, assembling burgers, handling transactions at the front register, or any combination of the above. (Why not pay fewer wages and just have people double up (or triple or worse!)?) If I was behind on orders, cleaning up messes (as opposed to actual filth) would have to wait.

  62. Smd75 says:

    If you’re wondering if the guy knew a friend there… I dunno. But every SnS Ive ever seen takes about 5 million hours to get any food because they are understaffed. You hardly see your server. It doesn’t surprise me that the guy walked to the back and took pictures and video.

    Terrible service, but somewhere to kill at least 3 hours in the middle of the night if you’re bored.