Tales of restaurant horror stories: Survey finds top reasons people never come back

Poor service, presence of rodents among many reasons

By Keith Dunlap - Graham Media Group

We’ve all had horror stories to tell after dining out, whether it’s been poor service, dirty conditions, lousy food or even the unexpected presence of insects around the restaurant.

But what really puts people over the edge when it comes to never again returning to a restaurant?

The answer to that question and more surrounding dining horror stories might surprise you, according to a survey conducted by Zoro.

Here were some of the findings in the survey that polled 994 people who dined out at least once a month. 


  • Of the reasons people wouldn’t return to a restaurant, the top reason (82.4%) was visible rodents or insects. However, 21.9% of millennials polled said they would still return to a restaurant even if rodents or insects were detected during initial visit. The second reason was food poisoning (81.4%), while a distant third was hair in the food (53.8 %). Having to wait a long time for food (24.8%) was the last reason for those polled not to return to a restaurant.
  • AP Images.


    What would diners do about unhygenic restaurant conditions? The No. 1 response was that people just wouldn't ever return. Bringing the problem to the attention of the waitstaff was No. 2, while requesting a manager was No. 3. More than 20% of those polled said they did nothing, or they'd do nothing.

  • Men were 24% more likely than women to request a manager in a dirty restaurant and 59% more likely to ask for a discount. 

  • When it came to bad behavior among waiters or waitresses, the worst thing a server could do was be rude, according to those polled. The second-worst thing was to have a dirty or unkempt appearance. 

  • Of those polled, 82.8% said they experienced poor service, 81.8% saw dirty bathrooms, 61.4% noted hair in the food and 59.5% said the music was too loud.

So, do these findings sound about right to you?

What's your worst horror story at a restaurant? Let us know in comments below.

Graham Media Group 2019