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Eating At Ihop

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sorry in advance for this long-ish post but i just have to get everyone's opinions!!

i occasionally post (but mostly lurk) on the Miss Manners etiquette board over on at MSN. one poster who happens to be a waitress at IHOP posted about a customer she had over the weekend:

started towards the party of 4 to greet them and let them know I

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Here is my thought:

A crowded hectic restaurant with a hassled waitress is the last place that I would seek help in ordering for my Celiac child, let alone a place where they primarily serve gluten specialties.

I would not expect her to spend extra time with my family, when ten others are yelling for her.

You have to make good choices to eat when you can have the time of the wait staff. Call ahead and know what you're walking into. And don't expect staff to stand on their heads to accomodate those of us with food issue.

Eating out well is a privilege for me, it's not my right.....just my thoughts.

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I am in total agreement with Lisa.......it's a bit outrageous for a celiac to even THINK of going to IHOP..... :blink:

(how I miss the swedish pancakes :( *sigh* )

The waitress, I'm sure, could have been more polite and the mother also more calm and friendly in her delivery - but at IHOP, it does seem futile.

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but isn't it the job of the waitstaff to do what they can to accommodate their patrons?

No, of course not. It's their job to bring you a meal. If you want special treatment, plan ahead.

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Yep, I tend to agree with Lisa too.

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Here is my thought:

A crowded hectic restaurant with a hassled waitress is the last place that I would seek help in ordering for my Celiac child, let alone a place where they primarily serve gluten specialties.

I would not expect her to spend extra time with my family, when ten others are yelling for her.

You have to make good choices to eat when you can have the time of the wait staff. Call ahead and know what you're walking into. And don't expect staff to stand on their heads to accomodate those of us with food issue.

Eating out well is a privilege for me, it's not my right.....just my thoughts.

Exactly--a little common sense goes a long way. :)

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I also want to note that those who share my thoughts, have been dealing with Celiac and associated ills for many years. With experience comes wisdom. ;):P

I am sure that many, many people are still adjusting the this new lifestyle. It does take some time.

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hmmm. well, i guess i agree with you all. i just think the waitress could have been a little nicer. maybe i'm over thinking it. :unsure: i tend to get defensive of fellow Celiacs!

but yeah, i cannot imagine going to IHOP. i still get nervous at restaurants that have a gluten-free menu!!

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I am sure that many, many people are still adjusting the this new lifestyle. It does take some time.

Very true, and thank goodness for forums such as this one and others so that people new to the gluten-free lifestyle can get answers to this type of question. We all know it's a bit of a hike from "begin the gluten-free diet" to actually navigating it on a day to day basis. ;)

We can be of great help to others through our experiences.

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Good grief! I'm astonished that the family even went to IHOP. And then at a busy time and INSISTED that the waitress and kitched staff stop everything and accommodate them!

It's people like these that give the people with allergies a bad name. If we were all like that, no restaurant would ever serve us food.

I agree, call ahead. AND - call at a time that the manager is able to give you his full attention - NOT just before or during mealtime.

If I were with a family group and they all wanted to go to IHOP (or any other restaurant that serves mostly glutenous foods) I would bring my own, and ESPECIALLY A CHILD's food with me and enjoy the company while keeping safe.

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I would never go to any restaurant without calling ahead and speaking with the chef or kitchen manager first. I also would not go during a busy time.

Finally, I hope they told the boy he could not have the scrambled eggs or omelets at IHOP, they add pancake batter to 'fluffy the eggs up' a bit.

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Actually, I've been to IHOP, though not at a busy time. The waitress was very pleasant--turned out she had a kid with lots of allergies (though not wheat), and she had the chef prepare a 3-egg omelet that was NOT from the batter/egg mix. It was delicious.

At one time, they were advertising that they had corn pancakes--and then it turned out that they still contained wheat. She knew all about it, and immediately advised us NOT to get the corn pancakes.

Like the above posters said, a little common sense goes a long way.

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I go to I-Hop at less busy time and have the fresh egg omelet -- not their omelet mix, which has pancake batter in it. No problem.

richard

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I have to agree with Lisa on this one, maybe IHOP was not the best choice--seeing as they do serve a lot of gluten filled products....

We actually do not have any IHOPS anywhere near where we live....in fact I think the first time I ever saw one was when we were in Orlando over the summer. We do see a lot of commercials though.... John really wanted to eat there so I decided to go and have eggs and some fruit.

I did not get sick but I was not pleased with their restaruant. We were there when it was dead...but it was very dirty and things were not being handled very well at all, employees were yelling at the manager who was young, the manager kept walking around and acting goofy which just made the experience even worse. John who had been dying to eat at this place for years hated it...which is a surprise because he likes cheap crappy hotels and everything.....

I hope other IHOP's are nicer...but this one turned me off. Where else does the entire wait staff stand outside smoking and no one is inside to help the customers?

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Wow, I found the post you are talking about. Some really nasty people on there. I will post what I replied on there:

I havent had a chance to read all the posts so I do apologize. I have Celiac Disease and it is very tough to eat out. Honeslty I rarely ever do, to much risk and people dont understand.

The mom was wrong to be demanding the way she was, very rude I think. She could have approached you in a better manner so shame on her.

Now if she were nice about it and gave you time to get to her table and meet her requirements would you be ok with that?

When I go out to eat I am very polite, I wait for the server to be ready to hear me out.

Its to bad, that woman gives us people with allergies bad names.

Sometimes us people with allergies just want to feel normal. Do you know how many times I have gone out to eat and just cried watching other people eat the food I used to love?

It is hard, it is a change of life and it wont ever be the same. I dont even like to attend social functions anymore because I get comments like: Why arent you eating? You are so skinny. Come on you could use a few pieces of pizza.

Please dont think all of us are like this woman. Just remember how hard it can be for us to deal with this. Imagine a doctor telling you that you can no longer eat 95% of the food that you grew up on.

Again the woman was wrong, she should not have treated you like that. I hope the next time you serve someone with allergies they will have manners.

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great post Jennifer. it does get a bit heated over there...i prefer to lurk but sometimes i can't help myself and have to throw my opinion in the mix. (and i usually regret it afterward. :huh:) i much prefer all the nice people on this board!!

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lol yes I prefer being here too! Some people just dont get it. If any of you are interested in reading what some of these people have to say, here is the link:

http://boards.live.com/Lifestyleboards/thr...param=Page%3d10

not sure if I am allowed to post things like this so I hope I dont get in trouble

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lol yes I prefer being here too! Some people just dont get it. If any of you are interested in reading what some of these people have to say, here is the link:

http://boards.live.com/Lifestyleboards/thr...param=Page%3d10

not sure if I am allowed to post things like this so I hope I dont get in trouble

I have been dying to see this forum about manners filled with unmannerly people!

Thanks

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Thanks for cluing us into that. Here is my response, which I posted on that thread:

First of all, it's standard practice in restaurants to clean off a surface (grill, counter, etc) when told of a customer with a food allergy. The whole kitchen does not shut down, and, unless they are extremely busy, it's not a big deal. Even fast food places like Qdoba do it.

Second of all, while it does sound from the waitress's perspective like the mom was more than a bit demanding--put yourselves in the mom's place for a few minutes. REALLY put yourself into her shoes.

Those of us with children have all found ourselves, at one time or another, in the position of trying to find a quick bite for a very hungry (tired, cranky, etc) child.

While we all try our best to plan ahead, the best of plans don't always work out the way we intend. We might find ourselves with the starving child where the only place within miles, or without long lines--is an IHOP. And the child just might have food allergies.

As several posters have already stated, it can be a NIGHTMARE trying to find food for a child with food allergies, especially a child who is newly diagnosed and remembers and craves the foods to which he is allergic.

Consider also the possibility that it might not have been the child's mother. It might have been a babysitter, aunt, or neighbor, taking the children in an emergency situation, and doing the best she could under stressful conditions, and in totally uncharted territory (feeding an allergic child).

I've been in both situations. I have been a waitress at IHOP (it was my first job!); I am also the mother of a child with celiac. So I can truly see both sides. But when I was a waitress (and I had never HEARD of celiac, let alone any kind of problems with wheat), I always did my best to be as patient and helpful to the customers as I could; THAT WAS MY JOB. And, now as a mom (and having some newfound food issues of my own), I try to be as patient and helpful to the waitstaff as I can.

And I have found myself in unplanned situations, like when my windshield cracked clear across when we were 500 miles from home, and we had to find food that we could eat, or when my father (in another city) was taken to the hospital just as we were leaving, and we spent 2 days going to places like IHOP because there WAS no gluten-free food in his town, and we had already eaten what we had brought.

That waitress made a lot of unpleasant assumptions about the mom in her scenario. She assumed that the mom was being demanding, and expected special treatment, and that she had no right to bring a food-allergic child into a busy IHOP. Heck, she assumed it was the child's mom! Those assumptions might have been correct--but they might not have been.

How would that waitress feel if she found out that, oh, I don't know, it was the child's aunt who brought the child to the restaurant because the child's mother had been in an accident and was in a coma in the hospital?

We never know the untold story, do we? Shouldn't we always assume the best of people, and try to do our best as well?

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You do an excellent job of presenting the other side of the story, however, a restaurant is not obligated to feed you. It is a business transaction that either party can choose not to participate in. If you are asking for special accommodations within this transaction, it's in your own best interest to do it politely.

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Wow, I found the post you are talking about. Some really nasty people on there. I will post what I replied on there:

I havent had a chance to read all the posts so I do apologize. I have Celiac Disease and it is very tough to eat out. Honeslty I rarely ever do, to much risk and people dont understand.

The mom was wrong to be demanding the way she was, very rude I think. She could have approached you in a better manner so shame on her.

Now if she were nice about it and gave you time to get to her table and meet her requirements would you be ok with that?

When I go out to eat I am very polite, I wait for the server to be ready to hear me out.

Its to bad, that woman gives us people with allergies bad names.

Sometimes us people with allergies just want to feel normal. Do you know how many times I have gone out to eat and just cried watching other people eat the food I used to love?

It is hard, it is a change of life and it wont ever be the same. I dont even like to attend social functions anymore because I get comments like: Why arent you eating? You are so skinny. Come on you could use a few pieces of pizza.

Please dont think all of us are like this woman. Just remember how hard it can be for us to deal with this. Imagine a doctor telling you that you can no longer eat 95% of the food that you grew up on.

Again the woman was wrong, she should not have treated you like that. I hope the next time you serve someone with allergies they will have manners.

I think this was a great response! I hope she was able to understand a little more of what an ordeal eating out can be with food allergies.

I've been in both situations. I have been a waitress at IHOP (it was my first job!); I am also the mother of a child with celiac. So I can truly see both sides. But when I was a waitress (and I had never HEARD of celiac, let alone any kind of problems with wheat), I always did my best to be as patient and helpful to the customers as I could; THAT WAS MY JOB. And, now as a mom (and having some newfound food issues of my own), I try to be as patient and helpful to the waitstaff as I can.

I think this is crucial in any situation dealing with food allergies and eating out. I know I have had to keep my temper before at restaurants, and even at my husband's family gatherings! I believe that as long as both parties are patient, and take the time to understand the other's situation, things usually turn out pretty well.

As for myself, I have eaten at IHOP many times since going gluten-free, and I can't remember a bad experience. Although, we usually go in the middle of the night, when it's not as crowded :lol:

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You do an excellent job of presenting the other side of the story, however, a restaurant is not obligated to feed you. It is a business transaction that either party can choose not to participate in. If you are asking for special accommodations within this transaction, it's in your own best interest to do it politely.

If a "restaurant" is not obligated to feed you, then what is their other purpose!? I agree with the politeness issue, but people please, don't go saying things that really aren't true.

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If a "restaurant" is not obligated to feed you, then what is their other purpose!? I agree with the politeness issue, but people please, don't go saying things that really aren't true.

I think it depends on whether you are focused on the word "restaurant" or "obligated". A restaurant is not obligated to provide anything that in not on their menu. Good business practices lead most restaurants to try to accomodate special requests.

I think it is the difference between asking a steak house to leave croutons off a salad and thinking that Outback would be obligated to make me enchiladas if I ordered them.

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I think it depends on whether you are focused on the word "restaurant" or "obligated". A restaurant is not obligated to provide anything that in not on their menu. Good business practices lead most restaurants to try to accomodate special requests.

I think it is the difference between asking a steak house to leave croutons off a salad and thinking that Outback would be obligated to make me enchiladas if I ordered them.

Exactly!

I have had great success with a couple of restaurants (Cheesecake Factory and Pizzeria Uno) with very polite begging.

I explained that my son was allergic to wheat (yeah, yeah, we all know it's not an allergy, I just chose the most concise way to communicate the need), and just DEVASTATED that he could no longer eat pizza, and was there any way that the chef could make him a "pizza" on a corn tortilla, PLEEEEEZE? (Cheesecake Factory had items with corn tortillas on their menu already, and we brought corn tortillas with us to Pizzeria Uno.) And in both cases, we arrived at the restaurant at 5, well ahead of the dinner rush.

In both cases, either the manager or the chef came out to ask my son how it tasted. He was thrilled.

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