Great story about a kid-friendly, allergy-friendly restaurant that cares – Screamer’s
[The following post was written by Adrienne Walkowiak, a member of the AllergyEats team who has dealt with a dairy allergy her whole life]
Screamer’s Café: Cooking Up Some Fun
My daughters love to help me cook at home, and we were thrilled to learn about a family-friendly neighborhood restaurant that also offers kids’ cooking classes and great birthday parties: Screamers Café in Stratham, NH (www.screamerscafe.com).
The super-friendly, energetic owner, Leslie, is incredibly accommodating to people with food allergies, with nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free and gluten-free options available. In fact, when I recently called to arrange a cooking class for my daughter’s pre-school classmates, Leslie’s FIRST question was whether anyone in the group had food allergies, so she could plan the menu accordingly.
Allergy-Friendly Cooking Classes
When my girls were as young as two, they loved to participate in the fun, interactive cooking classes, where kids have the opportunity to try new recipes and are encouraged to make a mess. Each week features a new cooking adventure, all tailored around any food allergies.
My kids have made a variety of yummy things, including yogurt parfaits, chicken pot pie, meatloaf, cookies and cakes (using dairy/nut free recipes), and my girls’ favorites: tacos in a bag (which we’ve recreated many times at home and on camping trips.)
The hour-long classes are held several mornings per week. There’s no commitment to sign up for a series of classes – just drop in when you can – which is great for families with crazy schedules. The staff requests that parents sign up in advance (even the day before) so they can be sure to have enough workstations set up – and so they can prepare for any food-allergic participants.
In addition to the fabulous cooking classes – which are the main draw for my family – Screamers offers fantastic, creative birthday parties for children. The staff plans the menu based on each family’s requests and, as always, is extremely helpful about preparing allergy-friendly foods.
Allergy-Friendly Birthday Parties
As someone with a lifelong dairy allergy, I remember the childhood stigma of not being able to eat certain foods (pizza, cake, etc.) at my friends’ birthday parties. Now, as a parent, I’m absolutely vigilant about accommodating guests’ food allergies. It’s reassuring to have Leslie preparing food for my family – and our friends – because I know she’s vigilant about these issues, as well.
Not only is Leslie great with food preparation, but she and her staff are completely hands-on with their birthday parties, leading games like limbo contests and musical chairs. Children can choose their own theme in advance (we’ve recently been to a butterfly-themed party and a cooking class party.) The staff will bake the birthday cake (nut/dairy/gluten/egg-free, upon request) for you. Or, if you prefer, your guests can make the cake as part of the party’s activities.
Screamer’s is a wonderful place to eat. They offer kid-friendly foods, such as macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, and grilled cheese sandwiches, and will cheerfully prepare special meals without dairy, nuts, eggs, gluten and other allergy triggers.
Screamers also offers delicious options for adults, including soups, sandwiches, quesadillas and more. When I ask to see ingredient lists (such as the packaging for bread before ordering a sandwich), they’re always happy to accommodate my requests. I wish more restaurants were as cooperative!
As if that wasn’t enough, Screamers also has a toy room with a play kitchen, tool bench, blocks, dolls and a huge chalkboard, stacks of coloring books, puzzles and games for children to use on-site. It’s a great place for moms to meet up with friends for a cup of coffee while their kids have a safe place to eat and play.
Screamers is a great example of a restaurant that’s doing things RIGHT. Do you have a similar place in your neighborhood? What do you love about them?
Thank you to Adrienne for writing this AllergyEats Blog post. If you would like to share a story – good, bad, or otherwise – about food allergy experiences at a restaurant, we always welcome community input (and it makes my job a whole lot easier!). Please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know the topic you’re willing to write about.
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