What's in it for you?: REVENUE, raving fans, reduced liability, confidence of staff and guest.
I dine out, a lot, rarely alone. I will bring 2 to 10 people with me to dine at almost every dining experience and I have food allergies- 9 of them, to be exact.
I started my food allergy consulting practice, because I nearly confined myself to my own kitchen after getting sick one too many times in restaurants. My friends, family, clients and social network always ask me, "Where CAN you eat?" My point- I'd dine at your restaurant and bring my social network with me a lot more if I could be treated with respect, safety and ease along with great quality, full flavored foods.
By the way, there are 150 Million people just like me in the world. By creating a safe environment for them to eat at, opens up a whole new group of consumers who will visit your restaurants and regularly, and bring their friends.
My biggest challenge today dealing with restaurant owners, CEO's, chefs, cooks, and general managers, think they don't have a problem---- I'm going to tell you right now, if you think you don't, you are missing a giant gap in a growing market.
Until a restaurant is certified and trained to handle allergens and intolerance and understands them, no doctor recommends eating out.
Going "foodal" friendly creates an increase in revenue and raving fans. All good things.
The following is a true story:
On Oct 9, 2012, at 6:07 PM, Food Allergy Gal wrote:
Hello Barbara,I love coming to BLANK and bringing friends to your establishment. I haven't met a person yet who hasn't loved being there. I came in a few weeks ago with a group. The entertainment was great and plan to return for a Saturday show this month. We wanted to stay longer but because of my food allergies we were only able to order one thing on the menu, therefore had to go elsewhere for food options.I was wondering how often BLANK is encountering this issue (Food Allergic Guest) and if you have any plans to incorporate any training/certification for staff or do any special gluten or allergen friendly menus?
On Oct 10, 2012, at 11:55 AM, Barbara wrote:Hi Lara
Thank you for the note.I am surprised to hear this from you. We have a huge menu that includes both vegan and non vegan options.We have every type of protein. What are your allergies?We, in fact, never get this comment.We strive to have something for everyone.ThanksBarbara
Chief Operating Officer
On Oct 10, 2012, at 1:20 PM, Food Allergy Gal wrote:
Barbara,I am equally as surprised to hear your response as none of those things were even mentioned to me- ever. In fact in general the staff acted like I was the first person they'd ever met with food allergies.I am allergic to:Diary, Walnuts, Peanut, Salmon, Citrus, Banana, Cranberry, Vanilla, Sesame Seeds, & GingerI feel so bad asking for so many modifications when I go out- but at the same time I know I have successfully been able to eat great meals at home and with my commercial restaurant clients.Some major areas of concern (just trying to give to helpful feedback)
1. Our server didn't write down my food allergens, I was so unsure it wouldn't be communicated that I wrote them down for her.
2.They brought one set of sweet potato fries to the table and then brought a second and said- "oh, these are the allergen friendly fries." It was a bit scary, because if I had been sitting there at the time, I might have eaten the other fires, as they didn't say anything when they dropped off the first set. 3. We ordered 2 other items but the server came back and said nothing else was allergen friendly and they could not accommodate us.
On Oct 10, 2012, at 1:26 PM, Barbara wrote:Do you know who your server was?
Did you have a menu?We do not use peanut oil at all because of food allergies.We have salads, fries, steaks, chicken, shrimp, so many more items that are not part of your allergy list that you could have eaten quite easily at BLANK. I, also, am 100% dairy allergic and eat daily at BLANK.I am sorry you had a bad experience, I appreciate the feedback.Barbara
While she apologizes to me for having a bad experience she still doesn't acknowledge there is a disconnect between what she believes is going on and what is really happening. (THIS HAPPENS ALL THE TIME, not just at this restaurant but many others)
What to do differently:
- Develop a policy and plan for Food Allergic/Food Intolerant guest.
- Consider a fixed menu for FoodAls (food allergic guests)- or use our recommended software to have an ingredient guide that lets the diner know their options.
- Certify kitchen and staff members.
You can list calorie counts all day long but that has no significant value to a "foodal" or "gluten free, celiac" customer.
Contact the experts at LaraHolland, Certified Food Allergy Consultancy to help your food service business today.