A bill was just recently passed to require restaurants to train their employees for handling allergies in Montgomery County, Maryland, and the state’s Department of Health and Human Services is in huge support of the idea. The department has been acting as a resource to provide restaurants with allergy training courses for an easy transition into this new rule. This bill doesn’t go into effect until July, so I decided to give one restaurant a test-run to see how they would handle food allergies prior to this bill. My restaurant of choice: Red Robin (if you sang the “yummm” part of their slogan after reading the name, I’m proud of you).
I went on a busy Friday afternoon; I figured the pressure of a busy environment would add to the chances of seeing this location’s need for change in their allergy policies. Most restaurants forget about my allergies to the point of danger whenever I go during a busy timeframe, so I knew I was taking a risk, but it was a risk I (and my epi-pen) were willing to take for the sake of all allergy-filled individuals out there (you’re welcome). To my surprise, this restaurant chain was more than ready for my body’s abnormalities.
After being seated and introduced to my waitress, Lauren, I had asked her if the restaurant chain had a menu for allergies that I could order from as opposed to a regular one. At this request, she smiled and immediately went to go get me an allergen menu. I made a mental check in my head that this visit had a nice start.
When Lauren came back with my “menu”, I was expecting it to be a tiny, battered pamphlet that basically says “If you have allergies, here are the three items you can eat out of the 100+ items we carry: Water, oxygen, despair”. Instead, Red Robin has an iPad specifically designated for those with food allergies, in which the allergen menu is an interactive app where you can enter your allergies and scroll through all of the options you have. It was pretty impressive. 2 checks for Red Robin.
Once I ordered my food, Lauren asked me to list out all of my food allergies as she wrote every single one of them down. She brought the list to the kitchen staff to make sure I didn’t die. When my food was ready, she wasn’t the one to bring it out. The manager of the location brought out my dish, his hands neatly gloved, and he made sure to recite my food allergies aloud to me to make sure they hadn’t missed anything before giving me my food. To say I was extremely happy with the service is a huge understatement.
Despite the delicious burger and the endless fries, my biggest enjoyment with this location was how well-prepared they were for my allergies. I never once was made to feel like a burden, and they seemed more than willing to make my dining experience a safe one.
If Montgomery county restaurants are looking for some additional help on allergy training, they should contact Red Robin. This chain is one that wants its customers alive, and is definitely a place I’ll be returning to for so long as I shall live.