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kari

Ordering Gluten Free In A Restaurant

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Just as a heads up for people placing special orders in restaurants - I have read several posts and noticed that they are most always one extreme or another - excellent response to gluten free requests, or no attention paid whatsoever. I have worked as a waitress for years, and although I only found out I might have celiac diease in the past year, this is something I have noticed since day 1 - the way you approach the subject with your waitress/manager, etc will definitely effect your outcome. For example, at the restaurant I work at, I have a customer who introduced herself to me the first time I served her, and many times after, since she said she can't remember who has waited on her and who hasn't so she likes to cover her bases. I prove to her every time how closely I paid attention by acknowledging "yes, I am familiar with your condition and your order" and repeat to her exactly what she orders. She says she has a heart condition and can not have any added oil or butter. Every time she comes in, I make several 'kitchen messages' as they are called in our computer system on her order. This is her order, exactly the way I type it in:

'grilled salmon

no butter

no oil

on ANYTHING

plain baked potato

steamed brocolli

NO butter

NO oil

lemon pepper on salmon

extra lemon pepper on side

heart condition

no butter

no oil

at all

please'

Every cook in the restaurant is aware of this order and doesn't need to read the whole message because they know the order so well they just make it. There is one cook I know who never regards the messages, so when he is cooking I make a point to go downstairs to the kitchen and remind him, and when the plate comes out of the kitchen, I thoroughly inspect it for any sign of oil (the only thing in the order that normally would come with oil is the veggies, which are served that way unless ordered otherwise) but I know that any oil on the plate will contaminate the rest of the meal. If I see any hint of oil, I immediately go to the kitchen (leaving my other tables waiting) and stand there and WATCH as the entire meal is prepared again, and deal with the attitude in the kitchen about me being so particular. When this happens (which is rarely), I go to the table and let the woman know that while I am thoroughly aware of her condition and her special order, the kitchen ignored my request and that I am seeing to it that she is made a brand new meal to her specifications and I apologize profusely - even though this is in no way my mistake. She often thanks me many times over, and when her meal arrives, she tells me it is perfect. I remember every detail, down to her particular drink order and which condiments she uses so she will never have to ask for them.

I like to be good at my job, so I go out of my way to do these things, the way I would for anyone with an allergy or special diet. I ensure that her order is delivered correctly because she deserves to eat what she orders, how she orders it. The thing is, even with all this extra effort and attention, which often takes me away from my other tables and thus lowers my tips from them and technically causes me to lose money by waiting on her, this couple with the special order never ever tips the standard tip that one would expect in a restaurant. Ever. And, being regulars, every waitress in the restaurant knows this, so I can completely understand why any other waitress probably wouldn't put in half the effort to ensure this special order, especially when they know in advance that they will not be appropriately compensated.

As a side note, the other waitresses are even less likely to cater to this order since this woman insists on a special bread and hummus with olive oil which we serve in the fine dining portion of the restaurant - which, besides the fact that we are not supposed to bring over to serve in this portion of the restaurant, and we will be yelled at by the kitchen staff for giving out this extra that we are not supposed to - it has been explained to her that she just ordered hummus and olive oil and she says yes, she did, thus in many waitresses minds, negating the legitimacy of her need for a butter/oil free diet for a heart condition.

We are all entitled to eat out and be free of things which will harm us, and to be treated politely regardless of our requests, but keep in mind that waitresses at restaurants are working for tips only, and are in general not informed of or interested in many dietary issues, and are concerned with attending to and turning their tables so that they can, in turn, pay their bills.

Politeness is the best way to ensure you will not be glutened at a restaurant, but I can almost guarantee that being courteous and thankful to your server for his/her extra efforts and compensating them fairly will further ensure that they go out of their way and beyond with extra effort to make sure you are not glutened by accident.

Just realized this sounds like a rather long rant, but it really is not meant to be. I just hate to see when my fellow servers receive special requests and act like it's a huge pain and inconvenience for them, which it doesn't need to be if handled correctly.

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I completely agree - in fact, I bugged my new husband (4 years now) so much in the beginning, even before I had all these problems, that he needs to tip bigger so I did the tipping in the beginning. Now, he is much better and rarely has to ask.

In fact, now that I have such a special order, we tip bigger. My regular resturaunts, even when we skip a couple of months, the wait staff and kitchen staff still remember my order - almost to a T. We tip extra for that...

One place I go, I tell the waiter that I am ordering a "Kate" and they look at me and I tell them the chef will know and it comes out beautiful every time. They get a big tip, even though it is the chef and not the waiter but the chef gets a cut.

What I have noticed is, when we go out for lunch as a group to my "Kate" place, the rest of the table tips bigger too, after they see what I leave.

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I also frequent the same restaurants and the staff knows that I tip much larger then the normal tip. If the wait staff has to do even more for me then the usual because the kitchen has screwed up (the wait staff usually always catch's it) then I tip even larger then my much larger :blink: . I appreciate that they are looking out for me and they should be compensated.

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Politeness is the best way to ensure you will not be glutened at a restaurant, but I can almost guarantee that being courteous and thankful to your server for his/her extra efforts and compensating them fairly will further ensure that they go out of their way and beyond with extra effort to make sure you are not glutened by accident.

Your an angel Kari...can't believe you go to all this work and they don't even 'tip' the standard rate :(

I waitressed all during college and some after and I know what a hard job it is.

In my post for 'Red Robin' restaurant....you can bet they got a 'GREAT' tip from us. Ck out my post.

If you've worked in a restaurant....you know....you sure 'don't want to p*** of the chef :ph34r: ...I've scene many nasty things added to food. I wouldn't serve it...but wow...it's a tough life.

:lol:

judy in philly

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Hi Kari. Thanks for your post. I actually always tip atleast 20% even prior to being diagnosed with celiac, but now I certainly go out of my way to thank my server and tip a bit extra if I feel they really went out of their way for me. If I can express my gratitude, they know their efforts were appreciated and that can only help a fellow diner, or myself if I were to have them again.

My family owns restaurants so I know how it goes. :)

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Kari, you sound like an awesome waitress!

You know on some level, sure, the customer shouldn't have to pay any extra to have his dietary needs taken care of. But on the other hand, when I, a celiac, am taken care of in a restaurant and I leave without being glutened, it usually means that some server has gone the extra mile for me and I tip accordingly.

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you are awesome!!!! That is why when we eat out I prefer a sit down restaurant to a fast food place, I feel more comfortable knowing that someone is going to looking out for ME, when I explain the situation, and we always leave extra tip in that instance, always left 20% anyway, but now I add a bit more if they did a great job with my meal. Even bad service we leave at least 15%...

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I should knock on wood, but I have not had a bad experience yet with wait staff when trying to order gluten-free. In fact, our waiter the other night said, "Ma'am (damn it made me feel old -- anyway), if you don't mind me asking, what type of diet are you on that you can't have these things?" I told him that I was gluten intolerant, it destroys my cerebellum, blah blah blah and that's why I'm in the chair. His eyes lit up and he said, "I have a friend with Celiac disease. I know what you're talking about with regard to the gluten. I'll make a special note on your food that it doesn't get around gluten-containing foods." Tell me he didn't get 30%!!!!!!!!! :lol:

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I waited tables for 4 years and really loved it. It is hard work, but you get satisfaction out of knowing that you are making someones meal special if you do it right. I REALLY appreciate servers now that I know what they do, and I know that they are going out of their way to look for gluten. I have had some bad experiences, but more good, with servers watching out for things. When I was waiting tables, I heard someone say that if the service was good, then you leave 10% or 15% if it was great and it it was ok to leave nothing if you didn't like the service!! I thought I was going to puke. I made 2.13 an hour, so I REALLY lived on my tips, and you are so right, when the kitchen messes up, YOU pay for it by the LOSS in your TIPS!!! I try to keep up when I eat out now when it comes to what was the servers mistake and what was the kitchens. Sounds like you do a great job!! Wish there were more like you out there!!!!

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I, too, waited tables for a long time while in college, at a range of cheap places to fine dining. Amazing how many people don't tip well...:(

I usually get pretty good service and I always tip 20% but there certainly have been times when I haven't had good service. I don't blame the server...it's usually the kitchen or the management...there have been a few times when I knew it was the waiter b/c they were just standing around or talking and my stuff wasn't getting done..but that is rare.

I don't believe, though, that eating out is an entitlement. I mean, of course we can do it, but if you eat out for many many years eventually you will be glutened at some point. when the food crosses that many hands it's impossible to make sure it's gluten-free...especially at restaurants with food runners. No matter how many times you say, I'll take this order myself, some manager always wants it out right away and sends some other server who picks up the salad with croutons on it instead.

Anyway, no matter what the service I tip 20% because I hope the next time I come in even the crappiest waiter will think, she tips well, and take care of me. I'm also always polite with requests. As a former waitress I understand what is and isn't their fault and I don't like to treat anybody rudely.

I still say you take your chances when eating out, even with the most dedicated staff.

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We tend to eat an Mimi's Cafe in Fresno (CA) fairly often and I was really surprised when we came in one afternoon (after not being there for over a month) and I start telling the waitress about our special needs. She said, "yeah, I remember you guys. You can't have gluten and you don't want the bread bowl brought to the table either." Most servers just bring the bread out with them when they come to take your drink order. I was so relieved that I didn't have to go into detail about every little thing. And she was great. I couldn't believe she remembered us! I can't imagine how many different people she serves in a month! She got our order perfect. Even had the kitchen make the kids dessert, little worms in dirt (pudding cups with gummy worms) special with no "dirt" cookie crumbs. Usually we just pass on the dessert because the cups are already made up and we don't want to have to wait. She was on it even before the meal was served! I also tip at least 20% usually, but she got extra that time!

Mimi's Cafe is really good about special orders (usually). They have a standard policy that you can substitute ANYTHING. I only have had one problem, and that was at the Visalia, CA restaurant when they first opened. The staff was new and the management/owners must have been trying to cut corners, because the waitress gave us a hassle about substituting fresh fruit for fries, saying they were told not to give out extra fruit because it was more expensive than fries. She didn't seem to get it when we were explaining about gluten/wheat/dairy.

I had a very interesting experience at the Anaheim-Harbor Blvd. Mimi's Cafe location (across the street from Disneyland). Our waiter didn't write the order down. All the special requests and he says he can remember it! :huh: I told my husband that if he got our order right then he was getting a BIG tip. Especially when he left our table, before entering our order into the computer, and went to the next table and took their order, too! I was pleasantly surprised when our food came EXACTLY the way we ordered it. Well he got his big tip. :D

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Had another great experience with breakfast today.

Good friend and I went into a local place in Media PA called Fast & Fancy. I'd called ahead to make sure they would cook eggs in a seprate skillet and not on the grill etc.

Said "I'd bring my own bread they said, ..sure people do it all the time :lol: " Hey, I'm feeling kinda main stream right about now... :P

We're seated and the coffee's right there as we sit down. Show her my card and say "I spoke with Roz and she said this shouldn't be a problem, can you please show the card to the chef.:

I order a western omlete..see I'm getting brave now :) hold the hash browns and bread.

No problem....with in 3 minutes the omlete is there with more hot coffee... :):)

No time to give her the bread. I say, " oh, can you please toast my bread for me" and pull out my bread in the OVC toaster bags and she says...what do we do with this...I said, it's ok, just put the bag and all in the toaster....well she disapears and we hear...loud loud laughter coming fromt the kitchen. She brings me my toast 'in the bag' on a plate with my butter and jelly....I say...HA, heard you guys getting a laugh over these bags...she says "Yea, we all thought we were going to catch the place on fire' We still can't believe these little bags work......."

Didn't tell her I'd just gotten them, and hadn't tried them myself......HA going to let them try them instead of catching my kitchen on fire. Did that once in my life and don't want to do it again.

And the laughs and stories go on.... ;)

Judy in Philly

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Judy, where do I get the toaster bags. They would be great to have on hand.

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Thanks ChelsE, I am going to order them this weekend. :)

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TOASTER BAGS.

SORRY FOR THE DELAY--TOOK MOST OF THE DAY AWAY FROM THE FORUM. JUST NEEDED A BREAK :)

I CAN'T GET THIS LINK HERE BUT GO TO GOOGLE AND DO

QVC TOASTER BAGS...YOU GET 10 BAGS, ON SHEET FOR COOKIE SHEET AND ONE CIRCULAR ONE FOR MICRO WAVE OVER.

IT'S ABOUT 24.OO WITH SHIPPING AND I TOLD ME I NEED FAST AND GOT IN 2 DAYS REGUALR SHIPPING .

THERE IS ALSO ANOTHER ONE kITCHENkAPER I THINK IT IS AND THEY HAVE 4 BAGS FOR 9.00 + SHIPPING.

sTILL THINK THE QVC IS THE BEST DEAL AND I CK'D THEM TODAY AND THEY DO WORK.

HAVEN'T DONE A SANDWICH YET BUT GUESS YOU CAN DO KIDS PIZZA OR GRILLED CHEESE ETC.

LET ME KNOW YOUR PERSONAL EMAIL VIA: PM IF YOU WANT AND I CAN SENT THE DIRECT LINK THAT WAY.

GOOD LUCK :)

JUDY

JERSEYANGEL TOLD ME ABOUT THE QVC ONES. WILL BE SO GREAT FOR TRAVELING AND YOU CAN WASH EACH BAG 100 TIMES IT SAYS.

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Thank you Judy. I will google them in the morning and if I have a problem, I will PM you. We don't really travel that much anymore as I just don't have the energy. But, when we do go to Las Vegas, I will now request a toaster in my room. They already give me a frig. That way I can have toast in the AM. I also thought that these would be great for a restaurant (like you did). I come on here about 3 times a day and then get off. Read the posts so they don't pile up :blink:

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Thank you Judy. I will google them in the morning and if I have a problem, I will PM you. We don't really travel that much anymore as I just don't have the energy. But, when we do go to Las Vegas, I will now request a toaster in my room. They already give me a frig. That way I can have toast in the AM. I also thought that these would be great for a restaurant (like you did). I come on here about 3 times a day and then get off. Read the posts so they don't pile up :blink:

let me know if you have a problem

I know about getting on and then 'where does the time go'??

My husband thinks i'm addicted.. :rolleyes::blink::rolleyes:

I think he's right but have been doing research for the start up of the local celiac disease support group.

just taking alot of time.

have a great sunday

Judy

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TOASTER BAGS.

SORRY FOR THE DELAY--TOOK MOST OF THE DAY AWAY FROM THE FORUM. JUST NEEDED A BREAK :)

I CAN'T GET THIS LINK HERE BUT GO TO GOOGLE AND DO

QVC TOASTER BAGS...YOU GET 10 BAGS, ON SHEET FOR COOKIE SHEET AND ONE CIRCULAR ONE FOR MICRO WAVE OVER.

IT'S ABOUT 24.OO WITH SHIPPING AND I TOLD ME I NEED FAST AND GOT IN 2 DAYS REGUALR SHIPPING .

THERE IS ALSO ANOTHER ONE kITCHENkAPER I THINK IT IS AND THEY HAVE 4 BAGS FOR 9.00 + SHIPPING.

sTILL THINK THE QVC IS THE BEST DEAL AND I CK'D THEM TODAY AND THEY DO WORK.

HAVEN'T DONE A SANDWICH YET BUT GUESS YOU CAN DO KIDS PIZZA OR GRILLED CHEESE ETC.

LET ME KNOW YOUR PERSONAL EMAIL VIA: PM IF YOU WANT AND I CAN SENT THE DIRECT LINK THAT WAY.

GOOD LUCK :)

JUDY

JERSEYANGEL TOLD ME ABOUT THE QVC ONES. WILL BE SO GREAT FOR TRAVELING AND YOU CAN WASH EACH BAG 100 TIMES IT SAYS.

Duly noted, Judy :lol:

thanks!

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