Newspaper commends specific restaurants for catering to gluten intolerance; calls for more

Newspaper commends specific restaurants for catering to gluten intolerance; calls for more

Every now and then I read an article so perfect for our community that I get very excited to share it.

Such was the case Wednesday when I saw a Fort Wayne News Sentinel’s editorial entitled “Restaurants commended, urged to pay attention to gluten intolerance.”

The writer starts, “It is time for someone to commend a select group of local and chain restaurants for their special attention to the problem of gluten intolerance.”

The editorial then gives a brief overview of gluten-intolerance and Celiac Disease before giving kudos.  Allow me to summarize.

  • “It is surprising that certain Italian eateries, with their foundation in pasta, are among the most committed to providing gluten-free dining to those who need it.  Our local group of Casa restaurants offers a complete gluten-free menu with offerings of salads, meats and seafood, as well as substitute-pasta dishes.”
  • “The national Biaggi’s chain demonstrates an even stronger commitment, offering a large number of gluten-free items, gluten-free bread and an obvious course of training that results in its employees carefully assuring patrons that no gluten will come their way.”
  • P.F. Chang’s was also called out as being impressive (no surprise to regular AllergyEats Blog readers!).

The editorial then suggested that some restaurants were more talk than commitment…

  • “Some other chains fall a little short in that they provide merely an instruction sheet guiding the gluten-sensitive diner through their normal fare.  Such guidance usually consists of ‘order without croutons’ or ‘ask for your burger without a bun and your salad without dressing.'”  The only area of the editorial I really disagree with was its mention of Red Robin and Outback Steakhouse in this category, and your votes on AllergyEats confirm my view.

…and then really comes down hard on those that just aren’t making the effort at all.

  • “There are a few restaurants that have failed in their intention to serve this special population.  Some have forgotten their mission or have not trained employees to be careful.  As the commitment declines, the opportunity for outright failure or cross-contamination increases dramatically.”

Oh how I wish I had come up with that last sentence!  Sums my feelings up perfectly.

We’ve had this discussion before.  Why do so many individual chain restaurants have a similar rating as the chain overall – good or bad?  Because it is about commitment from the top!  If a chain’s management makes this an important priority, then patrons will be well-accommodated at almost all locations (P.F. Chang’s, Legal Sea Food, BJ’s Restaurants, Not Your Average Joe’s, Disney restaurants, etc., etc.).  If top management doesn’t make food allergies and intolerances a priority, then it just won’t happen at the restaurant level.  That’s it.  End of story.

“Properly, gluten-free meals [and those for food-allergic diners] should be prepared with separate storage, cooking and serving equipment.  Even the sources of food products need to ensure that separate processing locations and equipment are used.”

I have been told by restaurateurs that the biggest challenge to being allergy-friendly is not being able to guarantee these sources of food products.  Yet somehow many chains and independents pull it off.  So while I don’t belittle the difficulty, once again I feel it comes down to commitment.

In any case, huge kudos to Richard Hatch, a resident of Fort Wayne who wrote this wonderful editorial.  To read it in its entirety, please click here.

In addition, please help AllergyEats continue to give its own commendations and condemnations via its “allergy-friendliness rating” by taking a moment to rate any restaurants you’ve recently dined at.  Just go to the main AllergyEats site ( and answer 3 questions about your restaurant experience.  That’s all it takes – less than a minute.  And every time one of us adds a new rating to AllergyEats, it becomes a more valuable resource for our entire food allergy and intolerance community.


    Flora Calgaro

    I really wish everyone would stop putting Disney World on a pedestal. I had the WORST experience there in March after spending months and months and hours upon hours planning for my son’s Band Trip there. They were to accomodate only 6 total meals for him at specific restaurants after being told by their people where to go and that everything would be ready for him….Only ONE had his paperwork and the other 5 were rude and arrogant and indignant!!! Apparently, more than one allergy or intolerance is all they can handle, but for someone like my son with almost 200 sensitivites/allergies and 3 digestive diseases is too much for them, despite their promises they it would be no problem….This resulted in an AWFUL Disney experience for him, myself (I was a chaperone), his friends who accompanied him,etc. Again, only one restaurant had his food correct and the staff were marvelous. I was told by that manager that there was no reason as to why the other 5 restaurants were so unprepared other than their laziness and inefficiencies……..
    We will probably never go there again!! PS–Upon our return home, I contacted each of the managers/chefs/staff that I spoke with for months and NONE of them returned my calls! The “upper management” who I did speak with was an awful representation of the organization and blamed me! She accused me of not preparing for this trip. I couldn’t convince her that I spent months planning and confirming and it was evident if one restaurant got it right….she was rude and nasty to me on the phone and virtually hung up on me after she told me that I needed to “settle down and calm down and obviously my son didn’t get sick.” Actually, he got very ill, several times at Disney, because he took his medication, went to get his food as was preplanned, there was no food, and by time we found something for him to eat, his medication had already worn off and he cannot take more because of specific dosing instructions…..
    I will end this now, despite the fact that there are volumes more……………
    Just totally disgusted with the treatment of a 15 year old, his peers, myself and others by the Disney people!!!!!

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