So the scariest thing about having to be on a Gluten Free diet for life is that you sometimes have to put your trust in other people to feed you. This is especially terrifying for me because there is nothing I enjoy more than I lovely dinner out. If that dinner ends with me doubled over in pain and laying in bed, its frustrating. So I am going to add on to the blog the places I have eaten and ways to avoid getting poisoned if you leave the sanctity of your own home.
Rules for Eating Out while you are a Gluten for Punishment
1) Pick a place that knows what Gluten is
- I know, basic right? But there are some restaurants that have no idea what you are talking about. You should NEVER try to educate these people, just don't go there. Assuming that others know all about your problem and weird allergy just makes you look like a douche. Sadly, most fast, cheap, delicious breakfast chains fall into this category. No more Moons over my Hammy for you. Just stay away.
2) Call first if you have never been there
- most people say that you should talk to the manager, I disagree, if the fifteen year old hostess that answered the phone with her gum chomping in your ear knows what Celiac Disease is, chances are the chef has heard of it.
- just ask if they have a policy and if they have options, ask if they have served other Celiac's before and make a reso if they take one
- DON'T keep them on the phone reading the menu to you and asking a bunch of stupid questions, there are other people in the world, be respectful of the fact that another human is most likely staring at your phone partner right now. Most restaurants have their menu on line.
- IF the person who answered the phone has no idea what you are talking about, it does not bode well BUT ask for the manager anyway and see how that conversation goes. Any manager will do, restaurants train even their shift leaders on allergy awareness. Don't be an ass and ask for the owner or the general manager both of which might not even be there and some owners are very hands off and won't know jack. Just ask for the manager on duty.
- DON'T YOU DARE CALL DURING A RUSH! A rush in a restaurant is during the times that are popular to eat. In general, this falls between 11 and 2 for lunch and 5 to 9 for dinner. This is the busiest time for a restaurant and no one should call them for any reason during these hours, they simply do not have time to talk to you. A good rule of thumb is if you are about to sit down for a meal, so is the rest of the world, don't be a jackass. Call at 10 am or 3pm then the manager should be able to chat.
3) When you get there, tell your Server as soon as possible.
- don't expect your server to know all about you just because you called, that's selfish, let them finish their greeting routine, don't interrupt, there is always time to be polite
- tell them in a clear and polite way, be immediately grateful for the special treatment that you are about to receive, thank them in advance
- IF the server stares at you like you have ten heads, ask for the manager, do this in a nice way, do not roll your eyes or threaten to leave or throw your napkin like a baby, just talk to the manager. If after that conversation you don't feel comfortable, you might want to consider eating somewhere else.
4) Double check that everything brought to your table is Gluten Free.
- sometimes a Server doesn't have time to take food out to their tables. Another Server or (bonus) Manager might "run" your food. Just make sure, with a smile that this dish is Gluten free. Most places say that upon arrival at your table but if they don't just make sure, someone might have grabbed the wrong plate. If they aren't sure (exclude eye rolling or shitty behavior here too) just ask for the manager again.
- don't threaten or give too much disgusting information
"There better not be one speck of gluten or wheat on this plate or I'll spend the rest of the night in your bathroom and I'll sue you!!!!" AGAIN, being an asshole gets you no where.
- here's the thing, there is a basic service offered at all restaurants, if you ask for more than is normally offered, no problem, they really don't mind going above and beyond. In fact, most Servers love the challenge but you should pay for the extra service.
- it takes TIME to deal with a severe allergy (or any heavily modified meal for that matter so if you are a big fan of the on the side and cooked this way or that, this applies to you) and time that the Server is spending on you is time being taken away from other tables. As far a Service levels apply, the more time you spend taking care of a table's needs, the higher your tip. So if you are taking extra time, you NEED to tip for it. It's good Carma.
- good tippers get remembered and you will be well taken care of every time you go.
- 15% is a minimum tip for dinner, if you got a gluten free meal and were well taken care of, at LEAST 20%.
- if you can not afford this, stay home, I'm not kidding.
- some places charge more for Gluten Free food. I HATE this policy. I feel that it is akin to putting a toll booth on a wheelchair ramp. BUT this is not the servers policy, they don't get the money so don't bitch to them. You can discuss it with the manager at the next step.
6) Call the next day (if you don't get sick) and thank the manager
- remember who Served you and tell them how great a job they all did
- again, Carma, be a good person
- you can also post something on their facebook page, twitter or most websites have a feedback spot
The main thing to remember when eating out is, these people don't owe you anything, be grateful for the extra effort that it takes to serve you and be polite.