1988: Health department addresses bad behavior at the buffet

Posted at 5:27 AM, Feb 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-23 17:18:00-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Whether it was Ponderosa, Sizzler, or Ryan’s, Hoosiers had no shortage of restaurants with salad bars in the late 1980s.

But the salad smorgasbord was apparently a hotbed for bad buffet behavior.

So much so, that the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County encouraged restaurants to install signage discouraging Hoosiers from returning to the salad bar with a dirty plate.

In February 1988, WRTV consumer reporter Barbara Boyd visited a Ryan’s Steakhouse that had one of the signs installed. It read, “Please ask your server for clean salad plates.”

The reason for the reminder, according to Ted Alexander of the Indiana State Board of Health, was “to prevent the food which is being served at the salad bar or smorgasbord, from becoming contaminated.”

A Ryan’s manager told Boyd that the policy actually increased a server’s contact with their customers: Proof these Hoosiers raised the bar on the salad bar.