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Lisa B

Canadians - Watch Out For Kelsys

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Having a son recently diagnosed I polled some of our favourite eating places for their gluten-free menus/options. Kelseys provided me with a list of items which included their fries. I went last night to order take out and being a suspicious type wanted to make sure that all of the things that I was ordering for my son were safe.

The manager was very helpful and brought out the ingredient list so that I could check the BBQ sauce for ribs. I asked about the fries - whether they were coated - the answer was "YES"! I suppose that I should have stopped right there but I asked whether they were cooked in a dedicated frier - the answer was "NO"! They are cooked with onion rings and chicken fingers....!

I will be contacting Kelsys so that they amend the gluten-free menu that they distribute but wanted to post this warning for Canadians and any one else coming to Canada that believes Kelseys to be a safe option. I guess it's a good lesson in not taking things at face value, I'm just glad that my son did not get 'glutened' by me being too trusting.

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Lisa,

That was perhaps just your local Kelsey's.

I never eat out, but my mom does and she is gluten and casein-free. She goes out to Kelsey's relatively often with friends and has never had an issue. Our Kelsey's does not have a 'gluten-free menu', but the staff has helped her.

However, she doesn't eat the foods you mentioned, but I wanted to point out that every place is different! :)

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The gluten-free menu was issued by the corporate office which should represent every location - for a franchise or corporately owned store they should be run in an identical way so that you know what to expect every time. We didn't have a problem with what we ordered but I am glad I was careful. We still have miles to go for even large organizations that are generally cognizant at the corporate level of gluten-free but do not train their in store staff even at the management level. When I am able to consistently go into such locations and not get a blank stare from the Manager when I mention gluten-free then I will feel that we are making progress in awareness.

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I went into our local Kelsey's about a month ago after I heard about Kelsey giving gluten-free options. I talked to the manager who, although was an extremely nice man, knew absolutely nothing about the gluten free stuff, never heard of it, and was frantically trying to download the info from their corporate website, but couldn't find it!

Needless to say, I am sticking with my Outback for the once or twice a year my husband takes me out to dinner! Oh, by the way, August 15th is our anniversary and last year, he totally forgot it and was in the doghouse for a very long time! Let's see if he remembers this year - it should be interesting!!!! ;)

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Having a son recently diagnosed I polled some of our favourite eating places for their gluten-free menus/options. Kelseys provided me with a list of items which included their fries. I went last night to order take out and being a suspicious type wanted to make sure that all of the things that I was ordering for my son were safe.

The manager was very helpful and brought out the ingredient list so that I could check the BBQ sauce for ribs. I asked about the fries - whether they were coated - the answer was "YES"! I suppose that I should have stopped right there but I asked whether they were cooked in a dedicated frier - the answer was "NO"! They are cooked with onion rings and chicken fingers....!

I will be contacting Kelsys so that they amend the gluten-free menu that they distribute but wanted to post this warning for Canadians and any one else coming to Canada that believes Kelseys to be a safe option. I guess it's a good lesson in not taking things at face value, I'm just glad that my son did not get 'glutened' by me being too trusting.

That is sooo disappointing!!! Just when you think things are improving. Does the restaurant have a gluten-free menu on hand or did you have to go with the print out from online. What Kelsey's did you visit? I plan on emailing my local Kelsey's to see the response i get.

Anna

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Guest Doll

I have eaten at Kelsey's once post Celiac, and had a plain salad. I can't remember 100%, but I am pretty sure I got sick.

Moxie's is the same way. They also include things that are deep fried in shared oil as "gluten-free". They say on the menu sheet that these items "are not recommended for those very sensitive" or the like. Which is completely inaccurate and harmful. I have never had any problems with their spinach and bacon salad though. I was told the dressing is OK, but when I said I was really sensitive, I was told to have my salad plain. Which I did.

This is why I am scared that the gluten-free diet has become a "fad". They are offering "gluten-free" stuff without regards to proper training, CC education, and the seriousness of our disease. If it is true that people are using the gluten-free diet solely for weight loss, eating disorders, health kicks, etc. we are screwed. A newbie who doesn't ask the right questions could get really sick.

I now always say that I have a very *severe* gluten allergy when I go out. Celiac goes over their head. :P I tell them my food must be plain, made in a clean pan, clean utensils, no spices, sauces, marinades, etc. And even then sometimes I still react. I have stopped going out unless there is a specific social reason I must go. If the restaurant thinks you are on simply a "diet" (like a low sugar diet), CC will not be taken seriously. It sucks.

There are a few places that get it, though, to look on the bright side. However, I find these places quite expensive. The Creek in the Cathedral Bistro here in Regina is listed as Celiac friendly. A meal for 2 cost my fiance and I about $160 (but that did include wine). Sometimes the smaller restaurants with "real" chefs do better with gluten-free stuff because they actually have the education. But who can afford that all of the time?

As sad as it is, McD's is usually the safest place for me if I absolutely must eat out and have no choice. People can't understand why a fast food restaurant is healthy in my case! :D

Earl's *usually* is an OK choice as well.

Thanks Lisa for bringing this to our attention!

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Awhile back, I was all excited when I went to a Kelsey's in Burlington, ON. The manager shared this gluten-free menu with me and described how they don't use white flour anymore, just brown rice flour. I was so impressed. I can't even remember what I ordered now, but wasn't sick. My husband and I decided to go back again a couple of weeks later. As a well-trained allergic person, I went through the regular routine of asking all of the same questions, but the whole while thinking everything would be safe. That time, though, I was told a different story. Rice flour is only used selectively, not exclusively; there is a huge risk of cc AND there are NO dedicated fryers (as I had been told on my initial visit). We expressed how disappointed we were and will never go back because of the differing information. We are so lucky that we didn't get glutened when we did dine at their location.

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That is sooo disappointing!!! Just when you think things are improving. Does the restaurant have a gluten-free menu on hand or did you have to go with the print out from online. What Kelsey's did you visit? I plan on emailing my local Kelsey's to see the response i get.

Anna

The restaurant did not have a gluten-free menu on site; I got it as a response to my enquiry through the Kelsey's corporate website. The restuarant I visited was in Thornhill, Ontario (just nort of TO). I haven't emailed back to the person who provided me the menu yet but I will over the weekend and post the response I get.

Aside from the incorrect information from head office, it seems to me that there is a huge disconnect between the corporate 'front' of being gluten-free friendly and the training and education of staff. I understand that they are low wage, often short-term workers but at least the manager and the head chef/cook should be aware of allergy issues, not just gluten.

I'm a newbie to this but there are so many resources out there to tell me what to do, what to ask, etc., that if I rely on just what I am told then in store, if I don't do my due diligence every time we eat out, I only have myself to blame if my son is glutened.

Lisa

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I happened to write to the 2 locations i know of. They didn't answer me if the fries are gluten free but did respond with this answer

Thornhill:Our fries are coated. Fries sometimes do get fried in the same fryer as onion rings and chicken fingers.

Etobicoke:

The fries are made with a onion powder. The fries and onion rings have a Dedicated fryer, no meat products are cooked in those fryers. I hope I answered All your questions.

I find these responses inadequate, and headoffice must be informed that their managers are not aware of their new gluten free menu.

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In Thunder Bay, Ontario, the fries are coated in flour. And there is no designated fryer. However, the wait staff was incredibly helpful, answered all my questions, double checked everything...I had a baked potato and a burger without a bun, and I was fine.

But at our Moxies, I recieved helpful (but noneducated staff - had no idea what I was talking about) who spent extra time taking care of my order. I had a burger - no bun, of course, and garlic mashed potatos, as their fries and baked potato were not safe. The manager came out and told me herself. I did end up glutened. So the staff was wonderful, but they couldn't have stopped the CC, and I will, unfortunately, not be eating there again.

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Here is the text of the email that I sent to Kelseys about the discrepancy between their corporate menu and my in store experience and their initial reply the gist of which is "You're on your own":

Hello Denise,

On May 18th you very kindly sent me a list of apparently gluten free dining options at Kelseys; this past weekend was the first time we have tried to eat at a Kelseys location since then. We went to Centre Stree in Thornhill for take out. Based on your provided gluten-free menu I wanted to select ribs and fries for my son. As part of my usual due diligence I enquired of the server about whether the fries were coated; he brought over the Manager who was very helpful in discussing the menu even going so far as to bring out the product ingredient list for me to look at.

I was disappointed to find a discrepancy between the menu you provided and what the Manager told me - the fries are coated and therefore not gluten free; the fries are cooked in the same oil as items such as onion rings and therefore not gluten free. Had I not asked and simply relied on the gluten-free menu, my son would have experienced days of pain and discomfort as well as potential long term damage that a gluten free diet is designed to avoid. This is not an condition to be taken lightly, long term effects can be osteporosis and lymphomas, and I am disappointed that Cara, which I otherwise understand does attempt to accomodate Celiacs, would be so careless in providing inaccurate information.

I don't think that we will be making the choice to eat at Kelseys for some time; I hope that we can safetly rely on other Cara operations that we do frequent such as Swiss Chalet and Harveys.

Perhaps you could explain how this disconnect took place and commit to amending your information to accurately reflect the ingredients and cooking practices in the restaurant. I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

Good afternoon,

I apologize for any discrepancies with the list I sent you. As far as I was informed our fries are not coated, however with this new finding I will be contacting our corporate dietician for clarification. Many of our stores use different fryers for different items, so if this location

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Thanks for the heads up. As Kelsey's is part of the same chain (Cara) as Swiss Chalet, Montana's, Milestone's, etc. I expected them to be as good for gluten free choices. So far the only restaurant of the chain that I feel completely comfortable with is Swiss Chalet. They have a pamphlet outlining allergy information, including gluten free choices. I always have the quarter chicken with baked potato and salad with raspberry vinagrette dressing. :)

Unfortunately, I have never had a good meal at a Kelsey's (pre or post gluten free) anyway...almost everything seems to be deep fried and tastes only so-so. ;)

Michelle

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Re: Tony Roma's

It's been 2 years since i ate there, but you used to be able to get it online. I have eaten at Tony Roma's with this menu at various locations and didn't have a problem. I also went to Tony Roma's in Vegas and aruba and ate there as well. Im surprised its not online anymore.

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I don't plan on going to Kelseys after this but i did feel it necessary to write to them and let them know that if this is the case with their fried items then they need to remove it from their menu. A little pressure from all of us can make change. Looking forward to that menu from Tony's when you get your hands on it.

I appreciate your response. Since Kelsey's is a franchise their should be consistency with all of your restaurants. Kelsey's can not provide a menu that says this food is gluten free and not tell you that how they cook it isn't. Then its not gluten free. If all stores can not provide a dedicated fryer this item should be removed from the menu. Not all customers would know to ask this question. All celiacs are very aware of the cross contamination that may occur in a busy kitchen, but noone assumes that the food is being cooked right in gluten. It's like saying this item is peanut free but we sprinkle it with peanuts before we serve it. It really makes no sense. This matter should be sent to head office and the french fries/deep fried items should be removed from the gluten free list. Please forward my concerns. I would like to hear a response as well. I thank you for your time and your honest reply. I hope that Kelsey's can accomplish the same trust with their customers as Swiss Chalet and the Great Outback.

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Kelsey's on the east side of the country must completely be different. I only eat one meal in that place, the only one I was told was gaurantee safe...the Balsamic Chicken. It's been years since I seen the actual menu from there (the first time I went in with a friend and asked a guy came out from the kitchen with the whole binder). He explained everything detailed, and I can tell you I've never gotten sick.

I've never asked about anything else to eat there recently because I enjoy the chicken, but I guess for kids you may not want to spend $15/plate.....

Have you asked to see the exact menu and ingredient lists??

~ Lisa ~

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Follow up response:

Hello Anna,

You are correct, we will simply remove the French Fries from the Gluten free menu choices. It is really not worth the trouble, we have a miniscule number of people asking for Gluten Free menu items and most have probably long since given up on French Fries because they anticipate cross-contamination in deep fat fryers.

Thank you,

Corporate Dietitian.

Cara Operations Limited.

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I think that's the most responsible response and now we know! Kelsey's will be off my list. I have to add that The Keg is a pretty good choice - the fries are no good there either but when we go they make every attempt to accomodate. It's a pricey choice but great steak!

Lisa

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I think that's the most responsible response and now we know! Kelsey's will be off my list. I have to add that The Keg is a pretty good choice - the fries are no good there either but when we go they make every attempt to accomodate. It's a pricey choice but great steak!

Lisa

Oh i didn't know about the keg. Do you have a menu? What do you order?

It's been a while since i had a good steak. :)

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So far the only restaurant of the chain that I feel completely comfortable with is Swiss Chalet. They have a pamphlet outlining allergy information, including gluten free choices. I always have the quarter chicken with baked potato and salad with raspberry vinagrette dressing. :)

Me too! I didn't know I could have the dressing though. Next time my salad will be dressed. LOL

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Oh i didn't know about the keg. Do you have a menu? What do you order?

It's been a while since i had a good steak. :)

There is not a gluten-free menu for The Keg although there is supposed to be an allergy guide in store. The cesar salad is a 'no' because of the dressing - next time we will try to take our own. My son has a steak and baked or mashed potato (no gravy). He tried the creme brulee for dessert.

Today we stopped at a St Louis for lunch (in Woodbridge, Ont) - I am not sure if they are a national chain but seem to be expanding in the GTA. They did not have a gluten-free menu but brought over the ingredient list. The front of house manager asked why I needed it and after I referred to gluten intolerance told me that the fries were coated. She had a similar request from another diner recently who chose the ribs and a cesear sald without crutons. My son had wings with Asian BBQ sauce and a cesaer salad which I requested mixed in a clean bowl with clean utensils, no croutons. The server confirmed my request when he brought it to the table. Read the ingredients list - some of the sauces are not gluten-free. All in all a great experience at normal food and I have to recommend them (at least this location).

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In Thunder Bay, Ontario, the fries are coated in flour. And there is no designated fryer. However, the wait staff was incredibly helpful, answered all my questions, double checked everything...I had a baked potato and a burger without a bun, and I was fine.

But at our Moxies, I recieved helpful (but noneducated staff - had no idea what I was talking about) who spent extra time taking care of my order. I had a burger - no bun, of course, and garlic mashed potatos, as their fries and baked potato were not safe. The manager came out and told me herself. I did end up glutened. So the staff was wonderful, but they couldn't have stopped the CC, and I will, unfortunately, not be eating there again.

I'm originally from TBay!! I currently live in Edmonton but am thinking of moving back to be close to family. One thing that has kept me from moving is that Thunder Bay (being a smaller city than Edmonton) will have less people that know about Celiac. Do you have any problems finding gluten-free foods or restaurants that you can eat in?

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