What I Wish I Knew…
When eating at restaurants, be forceful with a smile.
I have to be honest with you that I can’t say I’ve experienced a lot of conflict in restaurants when dealing with my son’s food allergies. Perhaps the reason is because he is so young that I can get away from it. I’m pretty emphatic, though, when I tell the server that I’ve brought food for my son because he has food allergies. They are usually relieved and move along. I would love to hear any of your experiences where restaurant relations have been problematic due to food allergies.
Regardless of whether I’ve had conflict in restaurants, I have mocked up a game plan for if/when that ever happens to us. Here are the steps that I suggest using in such circumstances:
- At the top of the list is a very important reminder: Stay calm and be polite to the server. They are often young, frazzled, and just following protocol. There is no reason to be rude to them, even if they are rude to you. Be the better person
- State the issue at hand to your server. ”I am allergic to wheat and dairy.” Or, “My son has food allergies.”
- Tell your server what you want from them. Do they have a special gluten-free menu? Can they suggest some menu items that are safe for you? Can you talk to the chef? Or, simply that you have brought your own food and will not be a bother to them. (You may want to get their blessing for bringing your own food.)
- If you order from the menu, please be careful of your food. For the risk and necessary precautions, read last week’s post Eating at Restaurants.
- If all goes well with the steps above, enjoy your meal!
- If the server gives you a hard time and is unwilling to work with you (or does not allow you to bring in your own food), ask to speak to the manager. Courteously explain the situation to the manager. Most managers bend over backwards for your business. This approach may take care of any problems.
- If you fail to have success with the manager, I see two options for you. Express your discontent (nicely) with their unwillingness to help you. You can even let them know that you are going to give them an unfavorable review on Allergy Eats (they may not care). Then, 1) you can sit nicely with your family and friends and have a glass of water. You may be hungry, but you’re not going to die! Or, 2) get up and leave the restaurant.
- Finally, be sure to give the restaurant a review on Allergy Eats, whether favorable or unfavorable. It is a great help to other food allergy sufferers.
One final note, don’t waver with your food allergy issues and convictions. You can speak kindly and still speak matter-of-fact. Your health or that of your child is at risk. Wavering on this important issue is not an option.
Above all, don’t get angry and frustrated with the people in the restaurant. Kindness goes a long way to getting what you want. Even if they are rude and unwilling to work with you, you can still be kind to them. Kill them with kindness! But don’t be afraid to voice your dismay.
What further suggestions do you have for dealing with food allergy conflict in restaurants? What have you experienced, positive or negative?
Resolving conflict at restaurants is not the only issue we have to deal with. Next week we’ll cover issues with family and friends that are offended when we turn away their unsafe food.
Shared at Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.