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Top 10 Distasteful Buffet Mishaps And Nightmares

by Adam R. Ramos
fact checked by Jamie Frater

While it is the complete opposite of haute cuisine in a gourmet restaurant, buffet food at self-service eateries continues to increase in popularity throughout the world.

Despite the appeal, buffets have garnered negative attention due to sanitary violations and twisted, unscrupulous patrons who seem determined to ruin someone’s meal. The following 10 items cover a myriad of bizarre and appalling buffet mishaps, meltdowns, and even a murder too ridiculous to comprehend or imagine.

10 Bottomless Brunch

Photo credit: kees torn

In late 2017, the enthusiasm aboard one of the world’s largest cruise ships, Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas, was abruptly halted after 195 people were stricken with vomiting and diarrhea. The aromatic affair began after the passengers indulged at the “Bottomless Brunch” buffet, creating an overflow of cabin usage and bodily fluids for the remainder of the romantic 14-day voyage.

Following the cruise liner’s recognition of their putrid predicament, ship officials resorted to closing a majority of restaurants and other food services while crew members in industrial cleaning suits “comprehensively sanitized and cleansed” the hallways and dining rooms. The ensuing aggravation fueled by guests’ hunger only ceased after the incessant echoes of the moans and groans of fellow passengers in neighboring rooms squirting from every bodily orifice.[1]

Upon arriving in Tasmania, five guests were transported to a local hospital while an additional two were transferred to clinics following the liner’s return to Sydney. After an unflattering public flogging, Royal Caribbean issued a statement saying, “We hope all our guests feel better quickly.” They also stated that the cruise line would undertake further precautions and sanitary procedures to prevent such an unfortunate experience from occurring again.

9 Free Food

A devout Catholic woman in Slough, England, has developed a penchant for crashing funerals solely for the free buffet. For over 14 years, the unidentified woman has attended nearly every funeral at Holy Redeemer Church. There, she mingles with mourners before stuffing her face and piling up boxes of food to take home.

“Every funeral we have, she comes, and if there is a reception afterward, she makes her way to it without invitation,” Father Noah Connolly said of the famished fraudster. She went as far as hitching a ride from the church to the wake with the deceased’s grief-stricken sibling.

Even after being confronted at a funeral by the mother of a young woman who had died of Addison’s disease, the shameless crasher continued to gorge. “When I spoke to her, though, she told me she used to work with Catherine as a waitress. My daughter never worked as a waitress,” said Catherine’s mom, Margaret Whitehead. “She was eating from the buffet like there was no tomorrow.”[2]

8 Dumpster Diving

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It is hard to fathom having to dumpster dive for food, let alone pay for such a rancid meal. Such was the case, however, for unsuspecting diners at the China Buffet and Grill in Florida who feasted on food that had been retrieved from a dumpster.

State inspectors investigated the matter after footage surfaced of the owner digging through piles of trash while his wife played lookout. In addition, inspectors found 40 other violations including a roach-infested kitchen, shrimp stored at hazardous temperatures, cross contamination, and ice machines caked in mold.[3]

Although it’s not surprising that the standards at buffets are not up to par with fine dining restaurants, grotesque violations are not uncommon. In 2013, Golden Corral was accused of improper food handling after footage surfaced of raw baby back ribs, casseroles, chicken, and hamburger patties stacked beside a dumpster swarming with flies.

In 2017, employees at Tokyo Grill & Buffet in Charlotte, North Carolina, were caught on camera preparing food next to a dumpster and garbage can outside. The restaurant’s manager candidly admitted that his employees have prepared food on the ground beside putrid trash on more than one occasion. Yet, he denied personal responsibility because no manager was present at the time (a violation in itself).

7 Roadkill

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On a tranquil Thursday afternoon in 2012, guests at the Red Flower Chinese Restaurant were revolted after discovering that their main platter was roadkill. While dining at the Chinese buffet in Williamsburg, Kentucky, two employees seamlessly strolled into the restaurant via the foyer wheeling a garbage can containing questionable ingredients.

Despite the workers’ hasty dash to the kitchen, buffet patrons could not forget the troubling image of a deer’s foot and leg protruding from the trash bin as a pool of blood painted the floor from the entrance to the fryers. “There was actually a blood trail that they were mopping up behind the garbage can,” said a disheartened customer who immediately reported the incident to the health department.

According to the restaurant owner’s son, he had discovered the dead deer off the side of I-75 north in Williamsburg and had the bright idea to scoop up the meat before it spoiled. The health department had a different opinion about the problematic cuisine and shut down the restaurant immediately.[4]

6 Secret Ingredient

In 2001, 34-year-old Marco Arellano strolled into the Alpine Gourmet Farm Deli in Manhattan, approached the salad bar, and began to pour “a feces-like substance” onto trays of food. When the deli manager noticed the excrement sprayer in action, Arellano was immediately subdued by two employees. They held him until police arrived.

At the time of the homeless man’s arrest, cops found that he was carrying two jars of fecal material which were sent to the Health Department for further analysis. Evidently, this was one of a dozen attacks that Arellano had carried out in Manhattan eateries, including an upscale sandwich shop where he had doused the food with “an offensive liquid” that smelled like urine merely hours before his arrest.

“There [are] no words to describe something like that,” said Manuel Hernandez, manager of Zaro’s Bread Basket stores, a previous target of the homeless man. “It’s real sick. Terrible. I’m glad he got caught.” Arellano was subsequently charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, public urination, and criminal tampering.[5]

5 Blazing Dentures

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When Michelle Fidock was only 12 years old, she lost all her teeth in a memorable ice-skating accident. Decades later, the dentures that she had relied on since her youth were publicly incinerated in front of famished buffet spectators in Australia.

While dining at a SkyCity Casino “Girls’ Breakfast Brunch” in 2005, Michelle decided to finish her meal with cup of tea and a croissant. Unfortunately, after she placed the buttery French pastry inside the toaster, her breakfast roll went up in flames.

Michelle’s blazing dilemma only worsened when she tried to blow out the fire, which caused her cherished chompers to become part of the inferno. “My teeth flew, not just fell, flew out into the toaster and started going around with the croissant that was on fire,” explained Michelle.

After her daughter Bianca informed a waiter that her “mum’s teeth are in the toaster and we can’t get them out,” staff worked tirelessly to dislodge them from the bottom of the toaster’s tray. Sadly, at the time of their retrieval, the dentures were melted and burned to a crisp.

Despite the smoldering state of her only set of teeth, Michelle was like a dog with a bone. She stated, “I waited for them to cool down, as melted as they were, and tried to put them back in. But they were so hot, they burned the top of my palette.”[6]

4 Thirst Quencher

On a busy Saturday night in Kennewick, Washington, in 2014, 26-year-old transient Ryan Bravo entered the Old Country Buffet with an unidentified woman who bought him dinner and left. After Bravo had finished his meal, he calmly stood up, unzipped his pants, and urinated into a plastic cup. Then he drank the liquid in front of a packed dining room of bemused spectators.

Naturally, it did not take long for several people to complain, which prompted restaurant management to ask their parched diner to leave. After Bravo departed the eatery without incident, he was immediately arrested outside by Kennewick police.

Surprisingly, Bravo was shown compassion by the arresting officers. They were more concerned about his mental health than his possible threat to society. “This person is not a criminal,” said Sergeant Ken Lattin, who stressed that the man needed medication and counseling rather than prison.

Nonetheless, Bravo was charged with public urination and banned from the mall premises for five years. As to the reaction from restaurant patrons, loyal buffet enthusiasts continue to flock to the Old Country Buffet. Customer Antonio Ramos stated, “That didn’t stop us from coming to eat. We’re just hungry.”[7]

3 Buffet Etiquette

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People tend to become grumpy when they’re hungry, which can be a recipe for disaster at buffets with a limited food supply. Such was the case at the Royal Buffet in Manchester, Connecticut, where a husband and wife were arrested in 2016 after assaulting a young man over crab legs. The shellfish showdown ended after the victim’s mother used pepper spray on the feisty duo. They had left her son bloodied and without a front tooth.

Even more bizarre were the chaotic events that transpired over a piece of chicken at a 2013 wedding reception in Norfolk, England. Determined not to lose out on the poultry, the best man and brother of the groom pushed his way into the buffet line only to be knocked out by the bride’s uncle, 53-year-old Curt Hughes.

Interestingly enough, Hughes then turned his attack on his own family, punching the bride’s sister, mother, and father. “It was supposed to be my sister’s special day, and it was ruined at the end,” said Krystel Coleman, who was taken to the hospital with a broken nose and two black eyes.[8]

2 Unanswered Questions

In January 1999, over a dozen people were dining at the Union Buffet in Chicopee, Massachusetts, never realizing that two men were in the next room viciously killing each other. In a locked office at the far end of the dining room, the restaurant’s owner, Meiqing Zheng, was battling for his life against his business partner, Shou Xi Li.

When Zheng’s wife failed to get the men to unlock the door, she ran screaming into the dining area. This startled the patrons, who had been oblivious to the tragic events unfolding merely feet away.

Restaurant employees eventually managed to break down the door, but it was too late. Zheng and Li were discovered mortally wounded after suffering deep stab wounds from a single carving knife. As if things couldn’t get any worse, the language barrier between the employees and the police added to the confusion.

After waiting nearly three hours for a Chinese translator to arrive from eastern Massachusetts, detectives were finally able to question Zheng’s widow. Nevertheless, the police were unable to determine what had led to the attack, where the knife had come from, and who had stabbed whom first.[9]

1 A Bitter Easter

On Easter Sunday 2015, hundreds flocked in their best church attire to the M Resort Spa and Casino buffet in Henderson, Nevada. Around 5:00 PM, the day’s blissful festivities were interrupted by a car fire in the casino’s parking garage. Just as the flames were being extinguished, a single gunshot rang out in the buffet line, leaving one patron dead and setting off a chaotic stampede of hungry spectators.

The following Monday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal received more than 270 pages of notes mailed by 53-year-old John Noble, the deceased buffet patron. Noble, who had the charming idea to blow his brains out at his favorite eatery, detailed his gradual descent into despair. “Today, I end my life due to the M Resort Spa Casino and its employees,” he wrote.

Specifically, Noble’s grievances stemmed from losing his lifetime buffet pass at the casino which he had won as part of the M Resort’s Biggest Winner Contest in September 2010. According to casino officials, Noble was a “known drinker” who had been sexually harassing female staff members for a period of time.[10]

This prompted the revocation of his award, and he was banished from the premises indefinitely. Further investigation revealed that the car fire was caused by Noble in a possible attempt to distract the attention of law enforcement, allowing the distressed buffet enthusiast to carry out his inconceivable suicide scheme.

Adam is just a hubcap trying to hold on in the fast lane.

fact checked by Jamie Frater