When a Restaurant Messes Up Your Food Allergy Order - What Do You Do?
This past weekend I took my girlfriend out to one of her favorite spots in Cincinnati, OH called The Sleepy Bee Cafe. (Seriously it is an amazing restaurant so please don't let this story deter you from ever going.) I'm always weary of dining out no matter how long I've been gluten-free. At each place, I go through my standard protocol when placing my order by telling the waiter the following.
"First, before I start off, I wanted to let you know that I have celiac disease and I'm severely allergic to dairy and gluten." (I know one can't be allergic to gluten but the use of these terms allows for them to often take me seriously)
I then proceed to place my order with the allergy restrictions in place. This time around, my girlfriend and I both placed an order for an omelet with no cheese since we are both lactose intolerant too. With each comment, we were given a pleasant response of "no problem, we get customers with food allergies all of the time so we will get that taken care of for you." Truly, I believed the waiter and felt very excited for my meal. Why would I expect anything to go wrong?
It was my girlfriend's 20th birthday and we were super excited for our food to show up. Keep in mind, we were starving! The food arrived looking delicious and totally safe. (Check out the picture!) We began taking bites of our omelets and I felt very satisfied with mine. No cheese, no immediate reaction. I felt good! As my girlfriend dived into hers, she noticed tons of cheese start to ooze out and tangle in her fork. Obviously, since she asked for it to be dairy free, this was not ok.
We specifically told them not to include any dairy in our meals yet dairy somehow winded up in it. Now I know that accidents happen but it's always bad when it happens to those with food allergies. My girlfriend was hesitant to say anything but I absolutely wasn't going to let her pay for something that she couldn't have, let alone didn't ask for.
I kindly got the waiters attention and we explained how there was cheese in the middle of her omelet. We weren't rude about it, we didn't cause a scene. But we did have to speak up to make sure we got the correct meal that we ordered. After explaining that there was an allergen in our order that we did not ask for, the waiter was very kind, super apologetic, and made sure to refund us for the meal in addition to making a new one. The new omelet came out, free of cheese, delicious and perfect for my girlfriend's birthday. In addition to that, the manager came over to our table to apologize and happily give my girlfriend a birthday tart on the house. How amazing is that?!
Now I know many of you have dealt with this situation before and sometimes the situation does not turn out the same. For me, it's shown that being kind and respectful towards a person that makes a mistake (even this severe) often results in a positive solution...but not always. It is their duty to make sure that the food that we pay for is safe. However, we can only do so much to guarantee that. My best recommendation is to speak up for yourself when something like this happens but try your best to be respectful about the matter. By doing this, we still ended up having a very nice birthday meal all because of how we handled the unfortunate situation. With that being said, don't be afraid to dine out! You are in control of your situation and you have the right to speak up for yourself if an order ever comes out wrong.
So...how have you handled a restaurant accidentally messing up your food allergy order? Comment below!