Guest post – Applebee’s disappoints!
(This AllergyEats Blog entry has been guest written by Adrienne Walkowiak, a lifelong dairy allergic who also provides public relations services to AllergyEats.)
As someone that has had a lifelong dairy allergy, I’m always cautious when eating at restaurants. And as a mom of two young daughters – who, thankfully, didn’t inherit my food allergies – I appreciate the convenience and affordability of family-friendly chains. Until recently, most chain restaurants have been able to accommodate my special food requirements, while also providing my children with kid-friendly foods and crayons.
Recently, we went to Applebee’s as a family, and learned that they had changed their menu. Apparently, they have also changed their willingness to accommodate their food-allergic customers.
I ordered a hamburger, but explained my dairy allergy and politely went through my usual requests – no butter on the bun, no cheese on the burger, make sure the burger is cooked with no dairy, etc. The waitress immediately told me that they “couldn’t do that.”
What? You can’t stop yourself from slathering butter on the roll? All of the burgers come pre-packaged with cheese on top?
I was actually shocked because the staff had always cheerfully prepared my dairy-free food in the past. Did they change their attitude along with their menu?
We asked to speak with the manager, who told us that their grill is covered in butter, so I couldn’t have any of the grilled burgers, steak or chicken on the menu. Of course that limited my options significantly.
I reluctantly ordered a chicken sandwich with fried, not grilled, chicken, which made the meal far less healthy. When the waitress brought my dinner to the table, the sandwich was covered in a creamy white dressing. I asked her about it and she nonchalantly replied, “Oh, it’s our creamy Italian dressing.”
Of course, creamy Italian dressing is milk-based, so I couldn’t eat it. I grew increasingly frustrated, since I had spoken to this waitress in great detail about my allergy. She clearly wasn’t listening and wasn’t concerned about my health issues.
Needless to say, we won’t be eating at Applebee’s again. I’ve already rated my experience on AllergyEats so the food allergic customers will be aware that the chain suddenly “can’t guarantee” the safety of their food.
Addendum By Paul:
Before I even got a chance to publish this guest post, I came across an August 8 blog entry by Peanut Allergy Mom (who graciously allowed me to share her work here) entitled “PA Mom Nutrition Facts“. Within this post was the following passage:
Peanut Allergy Mom reader Alison Pollard Boseck’s comment on Facebook about how Applebee’s uses the same deep fryer to prepare French fries and chicken nuggets with its pecan encrusted chicken reminded me yet again how frustrating it is to know what’s safe for our allergy children to eat and what isn’t.
I don’t know about you, but that just about takes Applebee’s (and possibly others like Chili’s and Red Robin Restaurant) off our safe list for good.
And one last thing… Applebee’s has a dreadful chain-level AllergyEats allergy-friendliness rating of 2.3 out of 5!!! (How ironic that I used them in a prior blog entry as the hypothetical example of how much more money a restaurant could make if they went from allergy-unfriendly to allergy-friendly. Maybe they should read it! See that blog entry here.)
I’d love to see some great banter about this. Have Adrienne’s experiences ever happened to you? How would you have handled them? What have your dealings with Applebee’s been like – postivie or negative? Have you had similarly frustrating experiences at other chains? Please share your opinion with us by clicking on Reply or Comment below.
And as always, please visit the main AllergyEats site (www.allergyeats.com) and rate your recent dining experiences. The more ratings, the more valuable AllergyEats is for all of us!