Restaurants cannot afford to neglect the growing populations of restaurant-goers who require dietary accommodations. Not only are meals which comply with dietary restrictions in hot demand; they can also be offered at a higher price-point. Catering to dietary restrictions will benefit your bottom line in more ways than one.
Foster the Proper Attitude
The first attitude that must be abandoned is that the guest who follows certain dietary restrictions is simply high-maintenance and does so without cause. First of all, restaurateurs and their staff are not in a place to make that assessment. Secondly, avoiding common ingredients such as gluten, soy, or animal products is not easy. If someone is investing time and energy to do so, they have a good reason. Encourage your staff to view occasions where guests request modifications to their meals as an opportunity.
Most people with dietary restrictions have been in situations where the food available to them was subpar, or improperly prepared (leading to moderate to serious health repercussions), or they simply did not find any feasible option. As painfully obvious as it is, remind your staff that guests with food restrictions are people too: they simply want to enjoy their meal with minimal impediments.
Anyone familiar with meal preparation for those with dietary restrictions knows that it typically requires much more effort than its standard counterpart. For example, gluten free bread that doesn’t taste like cardboard will probably take considerable effort and creativity to produce. When a customer with dietary restrictions eats out, they want the experience to be as smooth and simple as possible. They need a break from complicated meals.
The menu can be a considerable source of stress in such situations. If meals are not clearly labeled as gluten free, vegan, or otherwise, patrons must guess or hail down a server, who usually does not know, which starts a chain reaction of conversations with various staff members who are all equally unsure if certain meals are in fact gluten free or otherwise. This is a lot of time and energy which patrons would prefer to spend with their fellow guests or by enjoying their meal. Use a “GF” or “V” icon to denote meals that are gluten free or vegan or which can be made gluten free or vegan. Further, create a smaller menu that only has the gluten free and/or vegan options listed. Customers will feel special and provided for by these details. Your thoroughness and care will not go unnoticed or appreciated.
Perspective is paramount. You are potentially losing a huge income stream out of indifference or ignorance. Your restaurant has the potential to gain a loyal and high-paying client base by properly managing guests with dietary restrictions. Don’t miss out on this opportunity!
Challenge: Learn about the top food allergens and restrictions. Present your findings to your staff, and ensure that everyone has a competent knowledge of the dynamics involved with food restrictions.
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