Thankfully, both for customers and restaurants, allergen information is much more readily available than it used to be. Corporations are able to provide that information to their various locations and franchises, but even small local businesses have the resources necessary to inform and educate consumers and staff about possible allergen risks, and how to keep customers safe and confident in dining with them.
The first line of trust for customers is knowing that the staff at a restaurant is well-educated regarding potential allergens and what options the consumer has to enjoy a tasty—and safe—meal. It’s often a concern for those affected by allergies that their needs can’t be accommodated or, worse, that they won’t be honored. Knowledgeable and thoughtful staff can put their minds at ease that their needs are important, and will be met. A great result for the result for the restaurant is ongoing customer loyalty; since safety in dining out can be a challenge for those with allergies, a restaurant that meets and exceeds the consumer’s needs will be rewarded with return visits.
Dietary preferences and health requirements trickled into menus a few years ago, but many have become commonplace. Gluten-free, vegan, and dairy-free options, along with allergy alerts and nutrition counts help consumers make informed choices and enjoy your food offerings customized to their needs and preferences. But menu information must be coupled with knowledgeable staff equipped to answer questions and recognize potential hazards that might not be obvious from what’s on paper. It’s also reassuring to patrons when servers and other staff understand their needs and take them seriously, and both obvious and distressing when they don’t.
Friendly, compassionate staff and great menus with lots of options amount to nothing, however, if it all breaks down on the way to the table. Servers (or cashiers for quick service) must know the proper procedures when a customer with a food allergy places an order, and prep staff and cooks must handle all food items appropriately to avoid allergen contamination. And, in the rare case that a customer’s needs cannot safely be accommodated, staff must be able to clearly and considerately communicate that limitation, and (hopefully) suggest alternatives. Safety is paramount, and with good customer service, patrons will appreciate the transparency and the efforts of staff to offer options.
The improvements in information and allergy accommodation are welcome for those who’ve struggled to find safe places to eat out. As the resources grow, it’s likely that the consumer demand will also grow as more patrons afflicted with allergies and sensitivities will find some freedom to venture into new restaurants. Businesses that populate their menus and equip their staff to meet these needs will discover a loyal and dedicated customer base who will reward their efforts to making eating out an enjoyable—and safer—experience.
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