Courtney Smith
November 11, 2015 12:49 pm

Is that a real restaurant or are you eating something from a stranger’s kitchen that hasn’t passed a health inspection? An investigative report by NBC New York found that 10% of the top 100 rated restaurants on Seamless and Grub Hub were not restaurants that matched up with a listing on the city’s database of restaurant inspection grades.

In some cases these “ghost restaurants” aren’t real storefronts with permits, they haven’t been inspected and issued a number grade by the city of New York’s Health Inspectors, and may not even be restaurants at all.

Your dinner could just be something some guy cooked up in his apartment. Or it could be from a restaurant with a less than stellar health grade, or a ton of bad reviews under their original restaurant name.

One big reason these “ghost restaurants” are cropping up is to keep up with competition.

“When we have one line, it’s hard to compete,” a restaurant manager told NBC reporters. “We know how many lines some of the other restaurants have. It’s an open secret.”

Michelle Jones, a restaurant consultant, told NBC New York that Seamless and Grub Hub, which are a single company, have no legal responsibility to verify the data restaurants enter into the systems. They’re simply the middle man, the same as if you asked a friend to call a restaurant and place a takeout order for you.

It seems the disturbing revelation about restaurant ghosting has piqued their attention, though. “We take the accuracy of our restaurant listings seriously,” GrubHub spokeswoman Abby Hunt told NBC New York. “We are partnering with New York’s Department of Consumer Affairs to address the issue and remove inaccuracies.”

For now, your only recourse, if you live in NYC, is to cross reference any of your own orders on the New York City Department of Health and Hygiene’s database of restaurant grades. Or you could just go the old-fashioned route and opt for take-out.

If you need a little extra incentive, read NBC’s full, eye-opening report here.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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