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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Please advise your server about any allergies (unless we're busy)

Posted on Sun, Jan 3, 2010 at 9:31 AM

Before my girlfriend and I went to a family dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Clayton Park for NYE, I phoned ahead to inform them that she has Celiac disease, which basically is an allergy to gluten, which is found in wheat rye, and barley. Even a very small amount could set off a serious physical reaction. I was reassured that the restaurant was familiar with and sensitive to the condition and could accommodate her needs - "just let the server know". This was the first dining-out occasion that my girlfriend had attended with my extended family, and we did do our homework beforehand, to avoid any problems. We were excited for the evening and confident that we had found a restaurant that would provide an enjoyable experience.
We met our large table and were enjoying holiday greetings and a few laughs when the server came to the table. I began explaining her allergy but only got a few words in before I was interrupted.
His eye-rolling reaction and annoyed tone quickly transformed mine and my date's previously zen-like mood: "I don't know if you can tell, but we are actually quite busy"...
I informed him that we had actually called ahead and had expected him to be interested in keeping his customers safe. I reminded him (or maybe educated him) that "allergy to..." does not mean "I don't like..." and it is not something you can turn off for special occasions.
So it was awkward but necessary for us to leave the rest of our group, for moral (who'd want to support that idiot's bank account?) and safety (he obviously did not care about my girlfriend's health) reasons. A nearby bar-and-grill type establishment had a free table so my girlfriend and I were treated to outstanding service (sensitive to dietary needs), and a surprisingly excellent meal (except for the too spinach-y spinach dip, but that's more than okay).
It was unfortunate not to be with the family group we had planned for NYE and also unfortunate for the restaurant that this server was ever hired (obviously a relative/friend of the owner and not hired based on personality or intelligence).
I hope that those who work in (or hire for) the food service industry have a bit of common sense when it comes to food allergies, etc. Had we been told when I called that the restaurant would not/could not/did not want to serve dietary problem' customers', we would have chosen another venue and avoided the stressful moments at that table.
I hope that server gets an allergy.
---Always allergic to terrible service

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