Burger King management is vowing to clean up its Nelson act and win back its customers’ loyalty after a slew of online comments lamented its Halifax St store as “grotty”, “revolting” and “slack”.
However, one employee says it’s not enough and the restaurant culture needs an entire overhaul, as well as closing for three to four days to get the place clean and up to scratch.
“But management says we can’t afford it,” says the staff member who the Nelson Weekly has agreed not to name. “I’ve noticed how dirty it is because my work shoes will literally grow mold.”
Their comments follow a raft of complaints against the store after local Marcus Christian posted about his experience on the Burger King NZ Facebook page saying the outlet was “way past unhygienic”.
“Rubbish all over the floor, no clean seats or tables,” he wrote. “The main part of the outlet was just appalling…I hate to think what the kitchen looks like.”
John Pope says when he went there were barely any customers, but the conditions were still appalling.
“I’ve been in the food business for over 30 years and I have never seen anything that bad…Management need to sort this out…Bloody shocking.”
One customer even urged people to complain so the fast food restaurant’s food safety certificate would be revoked.
“(Burger King) Nelson is just disgusting…The dirtiest fast food franchise I’ve ever seen.”
The employee spoken to by the Nelson Weekly agreed with all the customers’ comments. But they painted a more complex picture of staff under pressure and a lax management structure.
“It’s dirty all the time, the state of it is absolutely shocking.”
The employee says the bathrooms are the worst.
“We’ve had someone take a s**t in the sink, vomit all over the toilet lid, and pee in a blocked sink, graffiti all over the bathrooms, steal a toilet seat, someone even flooded the bathroom … this stuff is happening way too regularly.”
The staff member admits that it should be shut down, so it can be cleaned, but says the store passes health inspections every three months.
“Management are always so paranoid about them because they know it is bad but somehow we manage to just skim through every time … we know it is never up to standard unless the health inspector is coming.”
In the wake of the criticism, Burger King general manager of marketing James Woodbridge released a statement saying they have decided to post a crew member permanently in the lobby during peak hours to improve service.
“Our Nelson restaurant has been particularly busy due to the warm weather this summer and the launch of our new drinks machine. As a result of the increased customer interest, we have occasionally slipped in our normal high cleanliness standards.”
However, the staff member says that is not enough. The employee cites poor and frequently changing management, a lack of staff, incomplete training, a “just here to make some money” attitude and several staff regularly not turning up for their shifts as being to blame.
The employee says they enjoy working there but staff have had to deal with being punched, screamed at by customers, being followed “like a stalker”, and having people trying to jump through the drive-thru window.
Burger King reportedly told a customer through Facebook that it was sending in a new team to clean up and give staff new uniforms as well as installing a new operations manager. The restaurant invited the customer to try the place out once it was done.
Nelson Weekly asked management to confirm whether any of these measures had been taken but they did not reply to requests for comment.