Jeremy McCay snapped the cell phone photo March 3rd after, he said, he had to search through a stack of 15 plates before finding one that wasn't caked with food.
"I was really embarrassed to have to pull about 15 to 20 dishes," said McCay.
He peeked into the buffet's dish washing area after he struggled to find a clean plate. Jeremy McCay said he saw dirty plates stacked to the ceiling and food littering the floor March 3rd at the Golden Corral restaurant on Ming Avenue.
"It was more than noticeable. It was like you could almost scrape it off and it would collect on whatever you were scraping it with," said McCay.
McCay says he was so appalled he posted the picture on Golden Corral's Facebook page and called the restaurant's corporate office and the health department.
Over the weekend, the photo went viral with almost 3,000 shares and 1,000 comments. A chorus of others joined in with personal stories of dissatisfaction before the picture was taken down.
Golden Corral managers told McCay their dishwasher was broken that day. When they saw the Facebook photo Monday morning they volunteered for a public health inspection.
"We've been working with Golden Corral to get them into compliance. They've had some violations in their inspection reports that we'd like to see them do a better job with," said Donna Fenton, Chief of Food, Land, and Water Division.
Public Health says an inspector also went to the Golden Corral the day after McCay complained and found the dishwasher had been repaired.
Following Monday's inspection, Golden Corral got a clean bill of health.
"We've received more than one complaint about the dishwasher not working or the dishes being dirty," said Fenton.
Golden Corral released this statement Monday:
"The health and safety of our guests are top priorities at Golden Corral. In each of the past three health department inspections at this location, including the most recent which occurred on April 3, the restaurant received an 'A' rating. We will continue to ensure that our restaurant maintains the high standards that our guests expect and deserve."
For his troubles, Golden Corral refunded McCay's money and offered him a gift certificate for a return visit.
He went back on Easter. "Well it was cleaner, but I still had to go through three or four plates to find a clean plate," said McCay.
And, he doesn't regret reaching out on Facebook and prompting thousands of others to weigh in.
"I think when you see a picture this horrific and you have family that has ate there, I think that it should have 100,000 really. I don't think it's enough," said McCay.