The building is in a state of disrepair
Cute restaurants with character and charm are one thing, but decrepit buildings are another. “While most everyone has a story about ‘a little hole in the wall’ where they had a great meal, that’s the exception and not the rule,” Guinn says. “You can tell much by considering the general state of disrepair of the restaurant itself. Stained ceiling tiles, unswept or unvacuumed floors, dead or dying plants, torn wallpaper, or paint chipped and stained, and especially unkempt restrooms don’t bode well for the upcoming meal.” Here’s why you shouldn’t use the pepper shakers at restaurants.
The restaurant is empty
Early birds may be accustomed to dining alone, but if you walk into a restaurant at peak meal hours and you’re almost alone, the absence of others may be sending a message. “The number one thing to look for when choosing a restaurant is customers,” says Kenny Colvin, who runs a food and drink branding, design, and consulting agency. “Are there other customers dining there? If no one is eating in a restaurant, there’s a reason for it. It could be overpriced, it could be bad customer service or bad food, but if the seats are empty, consider it a red flag.”
The menus are a mess
If the restaurant’s appearance isn’t a warning, the first thing you hold in your hand can wave a red flag. “It may seem counterintuitive, but I can often predict the upcoming experience based on the menus I’m offered,” Guinn says. “If the restaurant delivers torn, worn, or dirty menus, that tells you the waitstaff isn’t adequately trained, or that the manager doesn’t pay attention to his or her restaurant environment.”
Menus with bread crumbs, food stains, and spilled sauces signal they’re not cleaned regularly. If the staff isn’t paying attention to this detail, they may be missing even bigger things. “It’s a sure sign that attention to detail is lacking. A manager who ignores the front of the house often has difficulty in the administration of both the front and back of the house,” Guinn says.