Another POTUS Question

Every once in a while I read or hear about the POTUS heading out to a local DC restaurant for a nice meal with the family. I assume that the Secret Service checks to make sure the place is safe, and that employees have to go through criminal background checks, but does someone taste the food before it is presented to the President?

In the past presidential candidates have ‘dropped in’ on unsuspecting delicatessens for some special sandwich, and sometimes they even stop for fast food, and I doubt these are planned so apparently it’s a fairly safe thing to do…

But if someone knows the president is coming to dinner in two weeks, and they wanted their name in the newspaper, they could cause all kinds of problems unless someone is checking to make sure the food it safe in advance.

Anybody know how this works in practice?

The element of surprise is often secure enough. Because it’s so random that POTUS would drop in for a meal, it’s quite remote that some fool or group of fools could plan and carry out a nefarious deed in the first place during a random event. That said, it would make sense for POTUS to share their culinary favorites with the Secret Service ahead of time. That would allow the Secret Service to do background checks on a number of restaurants near the White House. So even if POTUS makes an unannounced restaurant visit, you can bet it’s to a place that has been quietly vetted ahead of time. More formal dining would involve active checks of people, the place and the food, and raise the potential for an outsider to spill the beans.

I recall several years ago a story saying the White House makes regular, unannounced grocery visits all over the DC area buying food to stock the White House fridges as a normal course of business. Again, randomness has its own security.

Long ago in a galaxy far, far away in a federal job I held we got word that the Secretary of State was coming for a visit, with about three hours notice. Those of us who had been previously vetted for such occasions got the nod. Still, the unannounced randomness made the visit quite secure, since the visit coincided with a huge demonstration of several hundred protestors (unrelated issue) holding a rally just across the street. Had anyone known the Secretary of State was just across the street from them and that rally would have been a riot.