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Rivergirl

Meeting Location Frustration

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Please bare with me...I just need to vent so I came here.

I lead a Celiac Disease Support Group and had my meeting tonight at a trusted gluten free restaurant. I rotate my meetings at restuarant locations to 1)give exposure to restuarants who do a good job in preparing and serving gluten free options and 2)allows for participants to have something to drink or eat if they so choose. I also pick locations that do not charge for their meeting space. During the meeting, as the waiter was serving gluten free appetizers (that I paid for out of my pocket), a newcomer to the restaurant wanted to know what flour was used for the breading. I stopped the waiter and asked, he did not know, so I asked him to check with the chef. I was assured it was fine, but this lady also had other allergies she had a right to know the ingredients.

At the end of the evening the restaurant owner informed me he was less than pleased with our group meeting at his restaurant(even though this was our third meeting at this location). He said he 1) had too many wait staff assigned to our group (who mostly do not eat or order a meal) so they do not make enough on tips and 2) he said our folks need to trust his chef and not insist on finding out what was in the ingredients and 3) felt we occupied precious space that otherwise could be used by customers who pay for a full meal.

I apologized to him but nicely responded that I had no way of predicting who would order or who would not, that is why I always order many appetizers to help offset the fact that not everyone will order a meal. I explained to him our folks are generally untrusting so they ask questions- too many bad experiences and too many ramifications if they eat forbidden foods and ingredients. Many celiacs also react to other ingredients. So even if I tell them its gluten free they want to know if it containts _____ (fill in the blank). I also mentioned that although many of the folks might not have ordered something in addition to the appetizers I ordered, they stayed afterwards and ate elsewhere in the restaurant or they edhow great it was at the meeting and will come back. He said he rarely sees anyone from my group show up at his restuarant and he is not sure he wants to promote my type since he does not have time to answer all the questions that get asked. I then shared with him that I agreed with him, "our type" and his restaurant was not a good match. After signing my $200 bill with a 35% grutity I got the heck out of there....

I just had to vent... how very disappointing. I really liked going this restuaunt, but now really do not want to. You think you are doing good for the restaurant as well as members of the meeting who have a hard time finding a restuarant to go eat --- and then something like this happens. Kind of a bummer to my day...Thanks for letting me vent.

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That IS so disappointing. You should absolutely share the name of the restaurant so others will know that this particular restaurant is NOT gluten-free friendly.

I guess I could understand the owner's upset if the place was so busy that your meeting was taking serving people away from other customers, but it doesn't sound like that was the case. What a fabulous idea to have a gluten-free meeting at a local restaurant!

And... again, someone who doesn't have celiac disease and doesn't understand... celiac sufferers tend not to go to restaurants for fear of being glutened and they're not supposed to ASK questions about ingredients??? I'm thinking it's no wonder this owner doesn't see members of your group coming back!

I hope your other restaurant choices keep accommodating your group! It's such a wonderful idea!!

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Frankly you were too nice.

A "customer" is an "honored guest".

However well the wait staff did during your meeting, his conversation with you afterwards negated any spirit of customer service at that establishment.

Money talks.... I certainly would not have given him a 35% tip willingly - but I'm guessing that the tip was automatically added into your bill. I would have concluded the conversation with the fact that not only was my group not returning but that you were also going to ensure that the word is spread that this restaurant is not good for anyone with food allergies and intolerances....and that this encompasses a growing number in the general population.

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Another thought.

I would suggest that you write a letter to the restaurant owner, describing your frustration and disappointment.

Find and include an article about the growing number of people affected by gluten intolerance ... there have been several posted on this board. There have even been a couple on restaurants that are responding to this in a positive way. I'm talking about articles that are in the general media, not just on the celiac.com site.

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I'm going the the restaurant on this. Even if providing free meeting space most businesses expect the people to order. If you are holding the meetings to introduce people to the gluten free restaurant, they people should know they are expected to order something to show their thanks to the restaurant. Since this was the third time you were there I can understand the owners being a little upset.

I certainly do not think the owners handled this very well. Please post the name and place of the restaurant. People should know about their area restaurants and their treatment of their guests.

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The manager IS the owner and the man who told me where he stood. I think what upset me is that I have been to many community events "in the backroom" where I held the meeting and only appetizers were ordered. He also never made a request of me to make sure to tell my guests to order dinner. He also never asked how many "I thought would order dinner" - so he caught me off guard after the event - I was surprised and I really don't like surprises. I also thought I had been real good to him, publishing the name of his restaurant on the blogs, in newsletters, and helping him establish a gluten free menu, but unknown to me he thinks all of this is a pain in the arse. I didn't realize he didn't want our business - he is happier not serving us. So, he cut me off, I cut him off- I am pulling the restaurant off the lists, websites, newsletters, and am not recommending it to anyone who might happen to have a question or two. I won't get angry at him and I won't smear his name or his restaurants name, I just won't send anyone his way....

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Word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising. If it were me, I would most certainly not only remove the restaurant name from your lists, but I would tell everybody I know, not just Celiacs, but EVERYbody, that it is not a friendly restaurant. Period.

And I wouldn't have included a tip. So what if no one ordered a meal? You still personally spent $200 on the event, he should have been happy with that and should have done everything possible to ensure that he would get repeat business. Instead he decided that owning a restaurant and catering to customers is just too much for him. If he keeps that sort of service up, I'm sure he won't have to suffer with it much longer.

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Word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising. If it were me, I would most certainly not only remove the restaurant name from your lists, but I would tell everybody I know, not just Celiacs, but EVERYbody, that it is not a friendly restaurant. Period.

And I wouldn't have included a tip. So what if no one ordered a meal? You still personally spent $200 on the event, he should have been happy with that and should have done everything possible to ensure that he would get repeat business. Instead he decided that owning a restaurant and catering to customers is just too much for him. If he keeps that sort of service up, I'm sure he won't have to suffer with it much longer.

I'm so sorry to hear that a gluten free restrauant is so untrustworthy...scares me to think that they advertise as such, but really aren't very helpful when it comes to their customers. Why did he open a gluten-free restaurant in the first place?? Did he think that this was a new "trend" and wanted to cash in on it?? But, just a thought, people who don't know anybody close to them who is gluten intolerant or has celiac (and knows what they have to go through...), probably think this is another "fad diet." I was diagnosed in May 2010 and in my "adventure" to ask about and stock my kitchen with gluten-free products, sometimes makes me wonder....

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OMG! :o

You have class, lady, cuz I'da gone hillbilly on his butt.

What in this world was he thinking?

I'm a ghost hunter and we USED TO meet at different restaurants to go over findings, cases, etc., and we finally had to stop for these very same reasons.

I just can't for the life of me figure out why in this world a restaurant doesn't want a large group of people. Would they prefer that NO ONE show at up all?

We had places tell us EACH person had to pay at 20% tip, that's EACH person, individually, have had places tell us we could only stay so long, the list goes on and on we went to a buffet once and they said we ate too much. The buffet was $13.95 a person and they said we ate too much.

I don't know what the problem is that restaurant people have with "group" crowds. I promise, we were all very well behaved and kept our conversations quiet, it wasn't that, but it was like everywhere we went, one thing or another happened.

And to think that a place that says it's gluten free would get snotty about a gluten free group, well, that's just about stupid. I feel bad for you all, what a freakin bummer.

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Woah! That's just awful. I'm the co-chair (with my mom) of the local Celiac group. We used to meet at a place that's only rule was that everyone had to order at least a drink. We did, and many of our members ordered a couple cups of coffee or a meal. We never, ever had someone (at any of the places we've met) give us a hard time.

I'm sorry ):

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That is just bad customer service right there. If the restaurant was full I could understand but doubt it was. He should realize that you are introducing these people to his restaurant as a safe place to come and do business. There are people like my nephews who not only are gluten free but can't have corn and dairy and would need to know what is being used in these products. That does not seem like too much to ask for. He also didn't have to assign so many staff to you, when I was a waiter we would play it by ear, I'd take a group unless I needed help then I'd get it.

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Wow thats just terrible. Im usually afraid to go resturants because no matter how hard you try to explain your situation they just dont get it.I guess its like my sons Type 1 diabetes . if you dont deal with it you just dont understand it and just make assumptions. Well anyway I hope the other places work out for your group. :)

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