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Server Point of View on Gluten-Free and Allergen Training

January 24, 2014

This is a guest post for MenuTrinfo® by Alison Baumgartner, a former waitress.

For a long time, I was a career waitress who worked pretty much everywhere in the United States. I worked for high-end, local, and chain restaurants, and while they were all very different, I found that they had one similarity: inefficiency when it came to knowing exactly what was in the food.

And by that, I mean there was too little nutritional labeling, no awareness of potentially allergenic ingredients and no information on what foods that contain gluten for all levels of the staff.

In the end, it was very apparent that this lack of attention in these three areas led to bad business practices that endangered customer health.

Customers Health:

The most important thing to any business should be the health of the customer. Without proper allergy training, a certified gluten-free menu, and detailed nutritional labeling, restaurants put their customers’ lives at risk.

Protecting customer health is as important to having a good reputation, and a bad reputation is bad for business.

The Staff:

I hate to admit that I’ve been that server. You know, that server. The one that hems and haws, and tries to understand what could possibly have gluten in.  I was that server that spent ten minutes trying to find my busy manager just to figure out what foods had what. And I’m that server that spent five more minutes in the freezer fruitlessly looking for nutrition labels.

How much time do you think that took me away from delivering good service to my tables?

The delays and bad service didn’t stop there. Not having a proper process for preparing allergenic foods meant the cooks used their time inefficiently, and often did not follow best practices because of poor time management which would lead to cross-contact. All of this could have been avoided with proper training.

Because of these across the board problems, I can safely say that I have never had customer with an allergy return in my eight years of waiting tables. It’s not hard to see why.

Your Restaurant:

People don’t come back when feel like they’ve had poor service, and they certainly don’t come back when they don’t feel safe.

The time it takes for a cook to prepare a special meal, or a server to find out the nutritional data makes for bad service and bad service doesn’t bring a customer back. Changing business practices to accommodate the changing market can’t help but be anything but a boon.

What you can do:

The simple truth of the matter is that not having allergy training, nutritional labeling, and gluten-free menus is just bad for business. It’s bad for the customers, the servers, the cooks, and therefore it’s bad for the restaurant.

Is your restaurant ready to get your menu up to speed?

Contact MenuTrinfo® today, and see how we can help.  Call us at 1-888-767-6368