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Chipotle Tries, But Fails In My Book

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I read on here about the success and failures folks have at at Chipotle. I am about a month into my gluten-free life and while I like cooking at home, I have to go out. It's been a long week so i figured I'd go get some crispy tacos.

I head to Chipotle and I ask the gal to change her gloves and she shakes her head. All the while handling a flour tortilla. I make the motions of changing glove and she just turns around and talks to the guy behind her. Neither understand a word I am saying. I ask then for crispy tacos but ask her not to touch the shells.

Then on to the next gal, same thing, she has no clue what I am saying and I watch closely as she serves up the steak pieces into the taco shells.

Lastly. I know at this point I am visibly disgusted knowing that I stand a good chance of getting glutened I get my favorite green salsa and reluctantly say okay to cheese...I think this was the down fall.

When I was being rung up the manager asked me what the issue was with the preparation of my tacos, since he watched it all happen and never stepped in. I politely explained about allergies, since most people haven't a clue when I say Gluten I often just tell them I have a wheat allergy because they hear allergy and wake up. Anyway, while I am explaining to him that if someone is allergic to something and you are handling it then go on to touch other things you are creating a scary situation. His response was to hand me a card they keep behind the counter with their allergy info (they list Gluten on there by the way).

I then asked him if he could write down in Spanish how to ask for them to change their gloves to which his response was they don't speak any English and only understand what's on the board. I didn't want to get into an argument over it, but I continued to politely press the idea that being aware of allergies is not the same as compensating for them by listening to the request the customer is making.

I understand I am a fraction of their business in my fragile Celiac state, but I can't understand how you can highlight allergy information and say that you will do your best to accommodate the customer when the people you are speaking to don't understand a word you say.

In the end, I should have just left. It's my own fault, but I figured it was a good test to see how sensitive I would be.

On a side note, looking at how they prepare your food even if they change gloves the Cheese and Lettuce are not safe. They server those items by hand, not with utensils so flour coated gloves are in there all the time, so there is guaranteed cross contamination.

On top of that, who puts together the crispy taco setups? Those appear to be pre-arranged, chances are those have been cross contaminated already. I know they are now offering soft corn tortillas which I was tempted to try, but again, watch out for "pre-handling" of these items.

So yeah, I am miserable today because of this experience last night. While not trying to talk about immigration or anything like that, I think it's important that if you are going to service an area that is 99% English speaking, then it is probably a good idea to teach some English to your employees so they can understand how to respond to certain things, it's not like I was trying to engage her in a discussion about politics or something. I just wanted her to change her gloves.

Sorry about the rant, I know not all Chipotle's are equal, but they all prepare the food in the same fashion. And for what it's worth, I did go there a few weeks ago and got a bowl and had no problems. But the 4 people ahead of me all got bowls too so maybe the flour residue went away by the time it got to me?


If you have CVID and have been diagnosed with celiac disease, it's possible you may not have it. Talk to your immunologist.

If you have read any of my restaurant posts, do not follow what I have ordered anywhere as I cannot guarantee it is gluten free.

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My experience at Chipotle was almost identical to yours. I'm in Colorado, also, coincidentally. We tried eating at the Wadsworth Bypass location.

The non-English speaking staff was our biggest obstacle, plus we couldn't get her to NOT put the corn tortilla on the shared corn/flour tortilla press. Plus, getting them to change gloves, eeegaaaahhhds.

We haven't been back.

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my husband eats there a lot and swears it's fine but he tends to be more careless and not care if he gets sick/is "symptomless". i refuse to eat there because of your experience. not only do the employees not speak english but the restaurants by me keep the music so loud you can't even hear accross that little half window in addition to not understanding a word being said. it drives me insane. :o


Diagnosed with Celiac Disease February 2007

Finally feeling better than ever!

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I'm also in Colorado and tried Chipotle with the same bad experience. In Denver we've got a high percentage of Spanish-speakers and a lot of them work in food service industry. Not only in fast-food, which I avoid because most have gluten flying all over the place, but also in "regular" restaurants - back in the kitchen. Although your server might write down "no gluten" or "allergy to wheat," there is a high chance that someone who doesn't speak English will get a hold of the order and cross-contaminate because they don't understand that they have to handle the food carefully (as with your Chipotle incident) or serve the gluten-filled version of your order because they can't read the special order. I have to stress the gluten free thing at restaurants and make sure the server tells the head chef because I've also gotten glutened at Outback due to the language barrier issue - oh, she also came back and said, "I told him that you can't have sugar" - she thought gluten was sugar :-).

The fact that the manager at Chipotle didn't take the issue seriously is of the most concern. If he can't teach the staff how to accommodate special-needs customers, then he should be retrained or fired. It is a manager's job to keep the food safe for all customers - we can't expect employees who don't speak English to understand us when we say "gluten-free" and "wheat allergy." Now, whether they should be the ones who take our order in the first place is a different matter.

I've had great success with Boston Market. Most of their food is gluten-free and they use separate spoons for each of their side dishes. As long as you don't get the corn bread, you're pretty much safe. Look up their web site. They have all their food with a detailed list of the ingredients on it - each food item identifies whether or not it has wheat. This is where we go when I'm too tired to cook and we don't want to make a huge deal about going out to a restaurant.

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I absolutely LOVE chipotle and have not had any problems there. I know there can be a language barrier, but usually the cashier is a person who speaks English. You could always ask them.

I am sorry you had such a bad experience there. :( I know that makes it hard to eat out once you get burned!

-Jessica :rolleyes:


Jessica

Gluten Free since 12-31-2002!!

Kansas

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Well I can't say I am happy to see others having the same issue and again, this really isn't as much about the language as it is how is the best way to work this with the management. As mentioned Colorado could be disproportionate with other parts of the nations in terms of the employees, and with all of the food allergies out there you would think restaurants big or small (fast food) would have things in place. I wont be offended if you say you can't accommodate me, at least it's honest and I know to not risk it.

I have had good luck with the Noodles by my office, no problems yet and I just tell them I have a wheat allergy and they are very attentive to it and even go back to the kitchen to ensure the people preparing the food see the Allergy Warning on the ticket.

They make it seem so easy, I'm not sure why it has to be so hard to have someone change their gloves and maybe use tongs for the cheese and lettuce instead of gloved hands.


If you have CVID and have been diagnosed with celiac disease, it's possible you may not have it. Talk to your immunologist.

If you have read any of my restaurant posts, do not follow what I have ordered anywhere as I cannot guarantee it is gluten free.

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They make it seem so easy, I'm not sure why it has to be so hard to have someone change their gloves and maybe use tongs for the cheese and lettuce instead of gloved hands.

I'm quite sure that this would be a good suggestion for the corporate headquarters. Explain celiac (and its prevalence) and mention other intolerances/allergies that might benefit from the separate utensils idea. It just takes one person to suggest something like this... maybe they never thought of it before.

I haven't tried Noodles... what can a celiac eat there?

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I'm quite sure that this would be a good suggestion for the corporate headquarters. Explain celiac (and its prevalence) and mention other intolerances/allergies that might benefit from the separate utensils idea. It just takes one person to suggest something like this... maybe they never thought of it before.

I haven't tried Noodles... what can a celiac eat there?

I sent a message through their website. I was also going to call the location to speak with the general manager. I'm not angry, just frustrated and want to see if everyone can be on the same page.

As for Noodles, if you go in there right away tell them you have a Wheat Allergy, they have a allergy button they hit and it prints it on the ticket. Again, they probably wont know hat gluten is, but they are very allergy aware. I order Buttered rice noodles with chicken. You basically wont be ordering one of their menu items, kind of custom ordering. I think they ring it in as buttered noodles then substitute rice noodles.

I have had good lunch at the location in Applewood by Applejack Liquors. I work at the edge of Golden so it is close to my work. I read about what to order searching this forum one day. Just be adamant about the allergy stuff as they should be trained on it. They should prepare everything in new clean cookware and bowls.


If you have CVID and have been diagnosed with celiac disease, it's possible you may not have it. Talk to your immunologist.

If you have read any of my restaurant posts, do not follow what I have ordered anywhere as I cannot guarantee it is gluten free.

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We have also had great success at Noodles. We usually do the Arvada location but we have also done the location in Boulder and the Applewood one. We eat there several times per month and have even had teenaged-order takers successfully help us get it right.

I had emailed Chipotle with my concerns that there was difficulty simply asking for a change of gloves, etc. and the response was very corporate and canned. I agree it isn't just the non-English speaking aspect. It's just not a service-oriented place it seems to me.

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I feel your frustration! I think the problem is the lack of understanding of the disease. I think restaurants are trying to keep up with the Gluten Free thing, but don't take the time to understand and make their staff understand what exactly it is. I ate at Outback last weekend and ordered off the gluten-free menu. When she brought me my salad there was a cracker (the little soup kind) right on top! She later asked me if I wanted any bread with my dinner. Luckily I didn't get sick, but sometimes it feels like you have to be paranoid like people are trying to poison you!

I know it is a step in the right direction that they even have a gluten-free menu, but it would be nice if they knew what it is and why people order off the "special" menu.

I ate at Chipole and got sick. I didn't go get the food so it is my fault if its because they didn't change their gloves, but it gives you a false sense of security when they advertise "gluten free". I am gonna eat at home for a while again. We need a totally gluten free restaurant!

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OH MY!!! I am sooo sorry to hear you have had such a horrible experience with Chipolte! I live in Ohio and this is my absolute favorite resturant! They are so accomodating. I have NEVER been cross contaminated.

In the beginning I had a very difficult time communicating with the employees also. I do not speak spanish and everyone in all of the stores (except the manager) speak spanish. But then I learned, I ask for the manager first thing. Then he communicates with the staff. The whole line stops what they are doing and everyone removes thier gloves, washes their hands and puts on new gloves!!!! Even at lunch/dinner rush! Wow! they are great. I go there so often I do not need the manager anymore. I say , "Would you mind changing your gloves, I am allergic to the flour tortilla's you are serving." That's it. The server stops what they are doing and changes gloves, grabs a bowl (I don't bother with toco's, too risky) and we begin. I do avoid the cheese and the lettus for the very reasons you mentioned. Cross Contamination. But I eat anything else I want.

I am super sensitive to CC. And now that they know what to do when I ask for the glove change I have never been CC. If everyone on the line does not change their gloves, the first person prepairs my entire bowl.

So, go out there and find a good manager and train them. It is so worth it!!! I also ALWAYS leave a generous tip. I make sure they see me do it too. Want them to know they are appreciated.

Good Luck!!!

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I haven't tried Noodles... what can a celiac eat there?

I have also had success at Noodles. They have a whole binder with all the ingredients of everything in it that you can look at. I've had the Pad Thai and a salad there - both with a few modifications. They have special pans that they use when making allergy meals. The first time I went there I asked for Pad Thai and when I mentioned the gluten thing the guy at the cash register turns around and yells at the top of his lungs to the cooks "Use the allergy pan!!!" It's become a bit of an inside-joke phrase that my friends use now.


Gluten-Free since September 15, 2005.

Peanut-Free since July 2006.

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A little english to spanish for you the next time

"I am allergic to flour" - Soy al


If you have CVID and have been diagnosed with celiac disease, it's possible you may not have it. Talk to your immunologist.

If you have read any of my restaurant posts, do not follow what I have ordered anywhere as I cannot guarantee it is gluten free.

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Last week after my experience I had filled out comments on my experience on the Chipotle web site. Again, while I am disappointed in what happened from visiting the restaurant I was by no means angry or irate and I feel that showed in my well worded comments (from what I recall).

I just got a call from the Manager of the store who apologized to me for my experience and explained that is not how his store is run. I explained the situation and let him know that I'm not angry, just frustrated that there was no way for me to get my information across and the manager on duty was not very responsive to what was going on and didn't really want to listen to what I had to say, or at least that was the feeling I got.

Long story short, he mentioned that the staff is trained to deal with special needs (such as allergies and gluten). He said he would immediately re-train his staff on how to work with these situations. He also acknowledged the language barrier and said he would make sure that the staff has a better understanding of when to involve the manager and so on.

In the end it was a good phone call and I told him how much I appreciated the call back and their willingness to accommodate for folks that need a little more attention than others. I never wanted to convey that I am one of those people that sits back and says "Hey I have this and you have to cater to me!"

I told him I would come in and visit again, and that in my past non celiac diagnosis days I always had a great experience there and everyone is always friendly.

Most of all I think he was concerned about me being sick and asked many times if I went to a doc or needed to see one. I tried to explain what happens to celiac patients and that it's not the same type of response as say someone with an allergy. However, I did emphasize that it puts a damper on about 24 hours of my life.

They are getting another shot and I am happy about that, I don't feel so left out. It will be nice to give them another try with my requests and we'll just kind of go from there.

I felt it's fair to come back and post the positive response from Chipotle to show that they take this pretty seriously.


If you have CVID and have been diagnosed with celiac disease, it's possible you may not have it. Talk to your immunologist.

If you have read any of my restaurant posts, do not follow what I have ordered anywhere as I cannot guarantee it is gluten free.

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I felt it's fair to come back and post the positive response from Chipotle to show that they take this pretty seriously.

That's a fair response from a large organization. Now they have to show that they've done what they've promised. Let us know if your next visit turns out well.

BTW - I tried Noodles by our house and the staff just looked confused when I said wheat allergy. The order-taker got out the allergy menu and I pointed to Pad Thai (their only wheat-free dish) and explained that they need to be extra careful and to please go back and tell the cook. She kept pointing to the nuts asking me, "No nuts?" I kept pointing to the wheat allergy column but I don't think she understood me in the end. However, she did go back and said something to the cooks. I should have taken the Spanish translations for wheat/gluten allergy because, unfortunately, I ended up getting sick. I've given up for now on going out to eat. I'm still not sure how to do it right just yet.

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We have given up on eating out for now....we've had too many mishaps. My dd is really sensitive, and has been sick from both Chipotle and Pei Wei. We've had the same difficulty getting the staff to change gloves, but after looking closely at everything, there's cc all over the place. When my dd got sick from it last time, we gave up. We've also had problems with Pei Wei, three times we've been served a regular sweet/sour chicken rather than gluten-free. You can totally tell the difference too, the wheat flour yields a nice crispy, dark coating and smells different. The manager was great though....gave us our entire meal for free, plus extra free meal cards. So I am still a Pei Wei fan, I just won't risk it anymore with dd.


Tamara, mom to 4 gluten & casein free kiddos!

Age 11 - Psoriasis

Age 8- dx'd Celiac March 2005

Age 6- gluten-free/cf, allergy related seizures

Age 4 - reflux, resolved with gluten-free/cf

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That's a fair response from a large organization. Now they have to show that they've done what they've promised. Let us know if your next visit turns out well.

BTW - I tried Noodles by our house and the staff just looked confused when I said wheat allergy. The order-taker got out the allergy menu and I pointed to Pad Thai (their only wheat-free dish) and explained that they need to be extra careful and to please go back and tell the cook. She kept pointing to the nuts asking me, "No nuts?" I kept pointing to the wheat allergy column but I don't think she understood me in the end. However, she did go back and said something to the cooks. I should have taken the Spanish translations for wheat/gluten allergy because, unfortunately, I ended up getting sick. I've given up for now on going out to eat. I'm still not sure how to do it right just yet.

Sorry to hear :(


If you have CVID and have been diagnosed with celiac disease, it's possible you may not have it. Talk to your immunologist.

If you have read any of my restaurant posts, do not follow what I have ordered anywhere as I cannot guarantee it is gluten free.

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Bumping this up for a follow up. I started visiting this location again this spring after having a few good experiences at the one by my office. Since I posted about how bad it was I figured it is fair to come back and highlight the changes they have made.

Now that I have visited the store about a dozen times now since March here is what I have noticed:

1. Staff is always willing to change their gloves, there seems to be no communication issue. If the employee does not understand english they immediately grab the manager who is always accommodating.

2. When I order the soft corn tortillas the staff tries to use an "unopened" package to get the corn tortillas, they place a clean piece of aluminum on the press, followed by the tortillas, then another sheet of aluminum.

3. One person process the whole order (other than the register), they will even attempt to get cheese from their unused tray if it is prepared.

I believe this to be a company wide policy as I have noticed the same policies in place at the other location I visit. Regardless I am very thankful and and I always let them know how appreciative I am of their attention to my needs. I leave them tips and I just left them a nice long comment through Chipotle's website about the positive changes.

So there ya go, if you are in the Centennial/Littleton, CO area the store at Dry Creek and University is the one that has made these changes and I now recommend them to any celiac. I have had no adverse affects since returning there.


If you have CVID and have been diagnosed with celiac disease, it's possible you may not have it. Talk to your immunologist.

If you have read any of my restaurant posts, do not follow what I have ordered anywhere as I cannot guarantee it is gluten free.

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Glad you had better experiences colorado.

I am in Colorado too and have had many meals from Chipotle, my experiences have been wonderful with the staff and management, they have bent over backwards to be accomodating. I don't even have to ask or make special requests, they know exactly what to do when making up and handling my order.

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I'm also in Colorado and tried Chipotle with the same bad experience.

I always go to the Chipotle in Louisville, Colorado and have never had a problem. When we walk in, they just change their glove and wash their hands. We even know the managers now because of us being their so much. I would highly recomend going to that one.

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