An Open Letter to the AllergyEats and Food Allergy Community
A Message from Paul, Founder of AllergyEats
It has been a very long time since you’ve seen an AllergyEats Blog post in your inbox and even longer since you’ve received a personal message from me, the Founder and CEO of AllergyEats.
I’ll leave it to the many wordsmiths better than me to describe life over the last 18 months, but the horrific loss of lives, increase in domestic violence and mental health traumas, virtual elimination of face-to-face human contact outside our immediate families, destruction of businesses and employment opportunities, surging animosity amongst our fellow citizens, and other effects can only be described as tragic. Beyond that, there were also many less severe, but still significant, disruptions to our lives. And hopefully – just hopefully – some of us were able to find a few silver linings amongst the chaos of uncertainty.
Food Allergy Life During COVID
For those of us dealing with food allergies, the anxiety of dining out certainly disappeared abruptly last March (though not the anxiety of handling food allergies day-to-day given the unpredictable availability of grocery store stock). Unfortunately, restaurants across the nation were amongst the hardest hit industries, and hundreds of thousands of foodservice workers lost their jobs overnight. Quickly, however, restaurants started to adapt by adding delivery, takeout, and curbside pickup options where they didn’t have them before. It kept the lights on and the grill going, but it was no panacea.
During this period, many restaurants were forced to take a step back in their food allergy initiatives, including many who have always been known as extremely allergy-friendly. There were many reasons that restaurants had to simplify their menus to make it through the early days of COVID-19, and unfortunately that meant more food was “batch made” and/or not available for any customization.
Thankfully, as our country has “re-opened” to various degrees, restaurants have been able to expand their flexibility again to appropriately and properly serve food-allergic guests. At AllergyEats, we could see the increase in dining out that started early this year and really started to pick up steam after COVID-19 vaccinations became available. And while the new delta variant of COVID-19 has caused a slight backtracking on a national level, many people – and many food allergy families – have continued to be more frequent diners again.
Here at AllergyEats, our goal for 12 years now has been to provide a platform where you, our food allergy community, could rate your restaurant experiences in terms of food allergy-friendliness for the benefit of the entire community of 30 million in the U.S. And you’ve been there for each other, driving up the value of AllergyEats to all food allergy families with each new rating you’ve added. We asked you to help, you answered, and we couldn’t thank you more. As we always say, we’re all in this together.
A Call to Rate – For the Benefit of the Food Allergy Community
Today, I need to reiterate this request for your restaurant experience ratings. During normal times, it’s important that our allergy-friendliness ratings remain current and fresh, as restaurants and their practices change over time. However, with so much change over the past 18 months, and with a huge gap in terms of current ratings, we need your help now more than at any time since our inception.
I am asking – and hoping – that you will each take a few minutes to reflect on your dining out experiences over the past few months and rate every experience you can remember. Even if it’s a restaurant you’ve rated before, rate it again. Your new ratings will replace your old ones, so no one’s vote is double-counted, though all the comments remain. Think about the restaurants you frequent where you live, the restaurants near family you may have finally visited, and the restaurants you patronized on any vacation or outing you might have taken. We need your ratings to ensure that AllergyEats can continue to provide the most current and fresh feedback possible for your families and the tens, and likely hundreds, of thousands of individuals newly-diagnosed since the start of the pandemic. Our mission at AllergyEats is unwavering. We want to provide a platform that makes dining out with allergies as easy and low-stress as possible. Of course, we can never provide a stress-free experience, but if we all join together and commit to reinforcing the core strength of AllergyEats (the restaurant ratings), we can continue to satisfy thousands of families every day.
Thank you for your consideration (and for reading this long letter – many of you probably remember that I’m not short of words… though I should be!). In addition, we’ve been randomly selecting AllergyEats users from all who have rated restaurants since early summer for $25 gift card awards. We plan to continue this through September 7. While I hope that’s not the primary motivation for rating your restaurant experiences, you certainly deserve thanks for how you’re helping our food allergy community. Of note, if you have not rated in awhile or have forgotten your user name and password, simply click on “Forget User Name or Password” to receive an email to easily reset your account. Also, if you know (sadly) of an allergy-friendly restaurant that has closed, please use this form so we can remove it from our database, or, alternatively, if an allergy-friendly venue has opened up, we’d appreciate hearing from you here.
Before I sign off, I want to tell you that while we’ve been quiet these past 18 months, there are some very exciting happenings taking place at AllergyEats that I look forward to sharing with you in the short-term, not to mention some extremely promising opportunities over the medium- and long-term. Thanks to your support, AllergyEats is in a strong position to build and grow more substantially from here, and I think you’re going to be very excited to follow the transformation of AllergyEats to a much higher “next level” over the coming months.
Once again, thank you for your support of AllergyEats and feel free to contact us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay safe, be well, and happy (safe) eating!