Golden Corral gross video not quite what it appears

The family restaurant chain made the right choice in how it handled this worrisome threat to its reputation.

By Jonathan Berr Jul 9, 2013 1:23PM
When the father of an employee offered to sell the restaurant chain Golden Corral a disgusting video showing shockingly poor food-handling practices at one of its locations in Florida, the closely held North Carolina company wisely told him to take a hike. Then it quickly noted that there was less to the video than there appeared.

Caving to the shakedown would have been far worse for the family restaurant chain. Not only would it have made Golden Corral look even more guilty, but every knucklehead employee with a cellphone camera would have tried to squeeze it for money. It's likely restaurants are getting similar types of offers all the time these days.
That being said, employee Brandon Huber's video is nauseating. It shows raw meat being stored outside the Port Orange, Fla., restaurant by the trash bin while the restaurant is undergoing an "inspection." The fact that it came out soon after an employee from Yum Brands' (YUM) Taco Bell was photographed licking taco shells doesn't help either.

Huber, however, left a few facts out of his video. 

The Golden Corral restaurant sign (© Charles Bertram/Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT via Getty Images)First, the restaurant was undergoing an unannounced inspection by the company. According to the location's owner, Eric Holm, an assistant manager decided to store the meat outside in violation of company policy. Why someone who works for a restaurant would do something so stupid is unbelievable. Don't inspectors check the trash bins?

Besides, according to a statement Holm posted on Golden Corral's Facebook page, Huber had a funny way of showing his concern about customers eating possibly contaminated meat: "Brandon Huber did notify my area manager of the issue, and we acted swiftly to dispose of all the improperly stored foods," Holm said. "No guest was served any of this food that was handled improperly."

Indeed, Huber assisted with the disposal of the meat on the day he posted the video.

Restaurants should be held to the highest standards of cleanliness. But when the next one of these videos is released showing an employee mishandling food -- which is only a matter of time -- the public shouldn't be so quick to embrace it as the gospel truth.

Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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61Comments
Jul 9, 2013 5:12PM
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I'd kinda like to know why the food needed to be hidden from the inspectors in the first place.
Jul 9, 2013 2:45PM
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Has Huber been fired? He posted a video but neglected to post or mention them throwing the bad food away? What's his deal? If You hate where You work, quit!
Jul 9, 2013 4:23PM
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If Huber wouldn't have notified his other manager, would that food have been pushed back in and served? I think the public needs to look on the side of caution. Whether the "Gospel Truth" or not. My opinion.
Jul 9, 2013 4:07PM
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Watched a watress at Golden Corral pick up an unopened butter and sour cream pack out of a half eaten bake potatoe wipe it with a towel and go hand it to a different table.  When I confronted the waitress about taking things from a table that was being cleaned and handing it to the next table, she said it was a directive from management that even though the butter was left in a half eaten potatoe, they were to wipe it down and serve it again.  Last time I ever ate at a golden corral.

 

EASLEY SC!

Jul 9, 2013 5:14PM
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Left out a few facts, First, the restaurant was undergoing an unannounced inspection by the company.  REALLY the restaurant is trying to justify putting that food there.  That right there goes to show me they were already in violation of how the food was being kept inside.  If the manager decided that instead of getting caught with that food inside in an unsanitary way it was smarter to put it out by the dumpster shouldn't that tell us something about the overall condition of that store itself???  Yet they are using this UNANNOUNCED inspection as a copout, which tells me that if they are told ahead they get it the way it should but any other time it's a health violation
Jul 9, 2013 5:08PM
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one thing in there defense as a ServSafe instructor the restaurant association states that as long as the package is not opened it may be reused such as creamers, jelly's, packaged breads, etc They are not the only restaurant doing this
Jul 9, 2013 4:41PM
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I saw a busboy at a Golden Corral restaurant in Iowa take a dirty plate off the table (the customer had already left) and proceed to eat the remaining French fries the customer had left on his plate.  I've also seen wait staff put unused butter/jelly/creamer packets back in their respective containers to be used by the next customer.  For my money, I do believe the original video and I think management is trying to practice damage control.
Jul 9, 2013 4:57PM
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Having worked in restaurants of all sorts, this is not at all surprising to me. The manager of every restaurant is to make sure the restaurant has enough staff to keep it running. A large restaurant chain like Golden Corral's doesn't have the manager of an individual restaurant in the chain make these health decisions. I have seen it all from bleaching seafood to leaving all sorts of meat thaw and be refrozen over and over until it has a bad smell or looks bad. This practice isn't limited to Golden Corral. I have worked many places where I wouldn't serve the food to an animal. Also, in the majority of cases, the restaurant is given enough notice to take care of things before the inspector ever gets there. It's all about profit at the expense of the health and safety of customers. Look at the track record of this chain. It's far from being the first instance. In most cases, restaurants make out better paying a fine than to correct issues that can be very costly and cut into the profit margin.
Jul 9, 2013 5:48PM
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Umm... this article flat-out lies.  At no time did Huber try to sell Golden Corral the video.  He posted it on Ebay for anyone to buy for $5,000.  He in no way tried to extort money from the company, as this article implies.  You can read the actual Port Orange Police Department report online.  The franchisee, Holm, tried to have the PD force the video down, but the PD told him the Hubors were breaking no law, since they didn't offer the video to Golden Corral.

Since they outright lied in the first paragraph, I didn't see a reason to finish reading this article.
Jul 9, 2013 5:46PM
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As a former telephone installer I have been in the kitchens and back rooms of hundreds of restaurants.
It doesn't matter if they are charging $10 dollars or $100 dollars for dinner the kitchens are pretty much the same, they are all dirty, they are all populated by teen-agers who have little knowledge of food safety. and they all serve food which has been kept beyond it's prime.
A restaurant's objective is to serve the most food, in the least time, for the least cost.
If you were thinking that your favorite restaurant is different, then I suggest you take an unannounced visit to the kitchen and see for yourselves.

Stay at home, cook food which has had a minimum of handling from your local market, and enjoy eating food which you know hasn't been fooled around with.
Jul 9, 2013 5:54PM
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"Eric Holm, owner of the Port Orange, FL Golden Corral restaurant, commented:

Golden Corral Corporation and I take great pride in maintaining high standards of food quality, sanitation and guest experience. The Port Orange incident was a result of the Associate Manager making a bad decision to improperly store food when the corporate inspector made a routine, unannounced visit to the restaurant. I apologize that a member of my management team made this bad decision. 

To be clear, this inspection was conducted by Golden Corral Corporation. Brandon Huber did notify my area manager of the issue, and we acted swiftly to dispose of all the improperly stored foods. No guest was served any of this food that was handled improperly. 

Brandon Huber actually assisted in the disposal of the food items the day before he posted the videos. I am personally disappointed that Mr. Huber chose to post the videos and make false statements after the situation was corrected.

I have a fantastic team of 110 hard-working people at the Port Orange restaurant. Again, I apologize for this unfortunate incident."

Why no mention of the supposed extortion in his original statement... or the POLICE REPORT?  Outright phucking lies by Golden Corral.
Jul 9, 2013 4:24PM
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Yet had this one employee not informed upper management it would have been served. Yes the sleezeball was trying to extort money but it wasn't him that felt he had to hide food because of an inspection, it was the manager. There shouldn't be anything to hide.
Jul 9, 2013 4:38PM
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I love a good buffet.  I do.  There aren't that many "good" buffets though.  At least not the "discount" types...I have to be honest...even if this video is a total fraud...Golden Corral restaurants are FILTHY!!  I don't patronize them at all anymore...I've never been to one that didn't give me the heebie jeebies in one way or another...the last time I went to a Golden Corral...I took a picture of a cockroach the size of a hummingbird  with my phone, the roach was crawling across a table that had just been "wiped down"...in reality the food and dirt on the rag was just spread more evenly along with the leftover food from the last patrons...and the roach was enjoying it's own buffet I suppose...anyway I showed the picture to the manager...who literally just shrugged his shoulders and went back through the door to the innards of the restaurant, without so much as saying a word. I've never been, and will never be back to a Golden Corral.
Jul 9, 2013 5:00PM
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Not sure I believe what the corporate office says. We tried eating at a Golden Corral in Humble TX once. Worst restaurant experience EVER!!!! The place was over-crowded, understaffed. un-bussed tables were everywhere, bussing stations were full of stacked dishes. Not a manager in sight. We actually witnessed some patrons were filling storage baggies & Tupperware type containers from the buffet line.. We turned & RAN away.

Jul 9, 2013 4:35PM
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All I have to say is every time I eat at Golden Coral I get sick.

 

 I only go because my daughter likes it, and she does not get sick but she also does not eat the meat that I do.

 

 

Jul 9, 2013 4:29PM
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Their food is still crap. Ate there once that was enough for me. It's for people that want to gorge themselves for a cheap price.
Jul 9, 2013 6:03PM
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Oops. Police reports do not lie. This article's author caught in a complete fabrication.  At no time did Mr Holm claim Mr Huber tried to extort money.  In fact, he outright denies it LOL
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It doesn't matter if the food is handled properly or not.  The chemicals in the "nuclear" orange colored mac and cheese means it will survive the process just fine.
Jul 9, 2013 4:47PM
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Flush twice it's a long way to Golden Corral...
Jul 9, 2013 4:57PM
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The last time I ate at Golden C. was 3 years ago and won't go back. At the same visit there were flies all around the dessert station and in my banana pudding there was half a roach all covered with pudding. That's the last time I went through their doors.
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