I've been in the Food Service industry for years. A bartender for the last year, and to be honest...
I Hate Gluten-Free Customers.
In fact, they are usually my worst. This isn't because I don't understand their disease. It isn't even because I fuck up their order.
It's because they make the entire process incredibly difficult. And, as a Celiac bartender, I can tell you for a fact that you can make a restaurant trip easy and enjoyable for everyone.
And, despite what you may think, you can do that without increasing your chances of accidentally eating something you weren't supposed to.
I understand that there are a few Celiac bloggers who would disagree with me.
Over the years I've seen some really aggressive posts put out by some pretty angry people.
I understand they are running a blog/business and the angry posts are more popular, but I just don't think we need to spread negativity more than it has been already.
That's why I wrote this blog post.
Do I have Celiac Disease? Yes!
Do I have an assortment of ailments that are a result of Celiac Disease? For sure!
Is my day to day life a bit more difficult than it was before? No doubt!
Do I have cancer? Am I impoverished? Do I struggle every single day just to survive? Fuck no, and more than likely neither do you.
So it's time to buck-up and change our mindset. Rather than trying to make a trip to the restaurant hell for both you AND your server, let's make it a great experience instead.
Here are 6 tips for when you are getting ready to go out to a restaurant so that you can have a great and easy experience for you, your waiter, and your family!
#1 Use the Internet
We live in a wonderful time, my friends. No matter what information you are looking for, it can be found online. So, let's use this to our advantage.
More often than not, you can find the restaurant's menu on their website. Start by taking a look through there and see if there is either:
- A Gluten-Free Menu
- A menu with Gluten-Free Items clearly marked.
Now, if you go online and can't find either a Gluten-Free Menu or Menu with Gluten-Free items marked off, go ahead and give the restaurant a call.
If they are helpful and knowledgeable on the phone, you are probably okay to go to this restaurant even if they don't have the gluten-free menus on the website.
#2 Ask for A Gluten-Free Menu
Once you arrive at the restaurant, ask for a gluten-free menu. By doing so, the waiter knows instantly that you are Gluten-Free without you having to go through the usual song and dance.
Here is what usually happens when someone comes into my bar:
Me: Hey there! How are you guys doing today?
Customer: Hi we are good, so I just want to let you know I'm gluten-free.
Me: Okay that's no problem. We have some really great food for Celiacs and Gluten-Sensitive customers!
Customer: Great, can you list all of them and the modifications you would do for each of them in order to make them gluten-free?
Me: Son of a...
And we can go ahead and stop right there.
When you enter a restaurant and ask a waiter to list everything Gluten-Free on the menu without taking a look yourself first, you are wasting so much of their time.
Since waiter's and bartender's live off tips, the longer you keep them the less they can tend to other tables and the lower their payout at the end of the night will be.
Guess what that means for you? A worse attitude coming your way and the way of all other gluten-free customers.
Just look at the menu, it's what it is there for!
#3 Be Reasonable When Deciding
Celiacs are smart people. We flourish in a world where most foods would cause us harm. We know what we can and can't eat, so we should be reasonable when in a restaurant.
If you go to a restaurant and ask if you could get their biscuits and gravy gluten-free, you need to re-evaluate your life.
That's. Not. Reasonable.
I have never once in my entire life seen gluten-free biscuits and gravy. It just doesn't happen. The main ingredient of the South's most popular breakfast food is literally gluten. Literally.
By using a little common sense when out ordering, you can really help both you and your waiter bypass most of the difficulty when it comes to a gluten-free food order.
(Note: One of our fellow Celiac's mentioned to me in the comments that she HAS seen Gluten-Free Biscuits and Gravy in her local restaurants! I'll be damned, but if you are lucky enough take advantage!)
#4 Order with Confidence
When the time finally comes to give your order, be confident and speak clearly to avoid any misunderstandings.
Also, with each item that you order specify the changes that you would like to be made to the order.
For example, if you order a salad as a starter, make sure to specify no croutons.
If you want to order an item that you aren't sure they can do Gluten-Free, ask. Then, if they can't, make sure you have a back-up that you are certain can be made Gluten-Free.
By being very clear during the ordering process, you can be sure that if a mistake is made, it was made in the kitchen and not a result of you or your server.
This way if you choose to talk to a manager about any mistakes that were made, you know that it wasn't your waiter who was responsible.
#6 Be Thankful
Once your food has arrived, delicious and gluten-free, make sure you thank your waiter.
They've put in the extra work to make sure that your experience was a good once, so show them appreciation! Also, ask them to pass your thanks on to the chef. He also put in the extra work so always show that you are thankful!
This will also help the next celiac who comes through this waiter! By showing that the gluten-free diet restrictions can still be easy, the waiter will in no doubt be more open to helping others with other dietary limitations.
Remember, the only way to 100% avoid cross contamination is to make the food yourself.
Everyone, Celiac or not, has had a bad experience in a restaurant. Let's not take it personally, rather let's try and improve the situation ourselves!
Spread the love fellas, spread the love.