Saturday, August 16, 2008

My Favorite Family Restaurant

We don't eat out much. We just don't. Much of the reason is because it just isn't relaxing taking our crew (7 yr old, 4 yr old, 3 yr old, and 9 month old) out. Another reason is simply because we enjoy not spending a ton of money on food that the family may or may not love. A third reason is that when you have child with a food allergy, eating out feels a bit like mission impossible. There are so many things to consider.

I was delighted recently to read that Red Robin caters to people with food allergies. The information came from a few allergy blogs that I read from time to time. It is hard to convey how suprised and excited I was to read that Red Robin had a special peanut allergy menu at participating locations. Naturally, I called up our Red Robin to see if they had the allergy menu. The hostess was very nice but unaware. She put me on hold a few times while she talked to the manager to get answers. Then she let me know that they do have a peanut allergy menu that they print on request. She told me that they had just printed one out for me. Since it was the 2nd of August, I immediately decided that I should take David on his Date to Red Robin!

When we arrived a few hours later for dinner, the hostess working was not the same hostess I had talked to on the phone. I had to re-explain about the allergy menu. The menu was found pretty quickly. We sat down and I enjoyed reading the Peanut Allergy Menu. I was slightly concerned that the menu said in bold print that was valid only until the end of July. I asked the waiter about it and he said he would check for me. A manager came and talked to me and explained that a new regular menu was coming out Aug 12 and that the allergy menu would be updated then. I was fine with that. I was touched by concern and kindness of the manager. She talked to me about David's allergy for a couple of minutes and explained that when they are alerted that someone has an allergy, they make sure that one person preps that person's food (instead of the food being passed down the food prep line).

We have eaten at Red Robin countless times and we have never had an allergy problem. Getting the Peanut Allergy menu was eye opening. It states that the Red Robin seasoning that they put on their burgers and fries are not "peanut safe". Thank goodness we have never had a problem with that. I ordered David a plain burger. I realized a few minutes after we ordered that I forgot to ask for fries without the seasoning. I thought about how many times he had eaten those fries and wondered if I should let it slide or if I could allow myself to ignore the new information. The manager brought out our food. She told me she went ahead and left off the seasoning off the fries. I thought that was very thoughtful! Before we left the table, when we were about done, another manager (presumably a higher level manager) came directly to our table and asked how everything was for us.

It was such a great experience. They do not claim that the allergy menu can keep an allergy sufferer safe. In fact, there are warnings on it that say that they cannot guarentee allergy safety in their restaraunt. I understand the legal reasons for that. I am impressed that Red Robin has gone to the effort it has to provide for customers with food allergies. (They also have a wheat/gluten free menu.) I was delighted by the service and care we got. I didn't expect it them to be going out of their way. It was extremely nice.

Red Robin has been a favorite of mine for a long time. I like it even more now.


Carmom said...

What a wonderful discovery. It is nice to know that there are companies out there that are willing to help it's customers. I am so glad that you found out all this information.

Anonymous said...

We had a very similar experience at Red Robin. We went there just for their PA menu after I read about. We were very impressed and the food was great!!

They are so smart to do this for families that have life-threatening allergies like PA because we are a loyal bunch. Once I find a restaurant for my PA son, I like to go back again and again because I know he is safe.


Amy Jo said...

I like it more too! That is so wonderful! :)

Jessica said...

That is so great!! I love them even more now that I know about this!

Kimberly said...

This is really awesome that they do this! I wonder if there are other restaurants out there that have an allergy-free (or whatever the actual technical term is) menu that the public isn't aware of?

Anonymous said...

WOW! This is so cool! Red Robin is one of my very favorites, and now I love them all the more after hearing your story. JA, you should consider e-mailing their customer service with your story. I feel like often people are quick to write a letter when something goes wrong, but forget to write when something goes right! I'm sure they would really enjoy hearing that you think they're doing a good job.

I often go gluten-free, and it's nice to know I don't have to give my precious Red Robin up when I do!