Gluten Free? Restaurants, stores, TAKE NOTICE! You're missing a goldmine in business.

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Restaurants and Stores complain of catering to special diets?

Hello Mr. or Mrs. Restaurant or Store owner. I know in the past you say, "We never had to cater to people for all these crazy food allergies. And now this gluten free thing, how bad can it be if they get a little flour mixed in? What's all the fuss about anyway? We never had problems in the past, why such a big deal now? If they don't like our food the way we serve it, they can just go somewhere else".

Well that is just what is starting to happen. Restaurants didn't realize that people like myself who continually got sick at their restaurants thought one of a few things. I must have gotten food poisoning or their food is too rich for me, or spicy or something with "THEIR" food. Then we do not return or we talk others out of eating there if we are joining them to eat. Often we think poorly of the management for not offering gluten free foods,or not educating their staff well enough about the cross contamination in offering foods. What they are forgetting is this.

We still eat out. We find a restaurant or a store that caters to our needs and they become our best friend. When we eat out, we always want to go there because we know it is safe. We become regular, faithful patrons and we tell others to dine there with us. How many restaurants can say they have regulars who recommend their restaurant to others all the time. Gluten free people are always searching the internet, reading comments left by others regarding willingness to offer gluten free foods, a dedicated gluten free menu and a reputation that it is truly safe to eat there.

I can name so many restaurants I have excitedly tried that were suddenly offering gluten free menus only to be sick for the next four hours or more because of cross contamination or uninformed workers handling the food process.

Examples from my own personal dining experiences include always telling a restaurant server and sometimes the manager that I am gluten free. Please, no wheat products in my food.

I have been served gluten free meals and then the bread basket is placed just to the left of my plate. What? I have gotten soups supposedly gluten free only to open and find several packages of wheat saltines on top. I've ordered breakfast, pleased to find gluten free pancakes on the menu, and then they bring flavored (not gluten free) syrup. Really? I want to ask. Oh yes, we can sell you some pure maple syrup. Well duh, of course I want it, why not just include it in the price?

Can you cook my eggs away from the pancakes please? Huh? they look at you funny.

Can you please change your gloves that you've been handling those flour tortillas with making burritos to make my taco salad or crunchy corn tacos?

We have rice noodles, but cooking them in the same water as the regular ones shouldn't matter should it? Or shrimp or chicken, even french fries (all potato aren't they), cooked in the same oil as fried shrimp or chicken shouldn't matter. Doesn't the heat fix all that?

In my grocery store, the gluten free products used to be all in one place, and made it so simple to shop, but was suddenly changed to be all over the store. We can't buy a lot of the other stuff so why would we want to chase up and down every aisle looking for products we can eat? Mr. Grocer, putting gluten free items on the other end of a long "wheat' smelling bread aisle makes no sense to me. They place Organic with the gluten free because it's like "all the same" right? No, then I get home with the wrong soup, I grabbed the organic one that was right next to the gluten free one.

I guess we are sorely missing all the wonderful breads and sweets that everyone else eats. This is why they make so many fattening bread type products with no wheat in them and think that's all we want.

I have to shop in several different groceries just to be able to get a hodgepodge of foods that I can use if it's anything processed. One store will have some frozen items, another store will have a better selection of dry goods or carry the one type of cereal or rice noodles I like. Either way, if they ever get it all together, I would be their best permanent shopper.

So I say, restaurant owners you a missing an important growing number of people as future faithful customers if you don't offer gluten free, and make sure your workers understand proper food handling in regards to this. Groceries as well are missing gluten free customers shopping in all their sections since I buy fresh vegetables and salad mixings, juice, eggs, meats just like any other customer when I shop. But I don't shop at stores that don't offer what I need. Times are changing and people's needs are changing. Forward thinking owners will understand this and accommodate this need accordingly.

Thanks for listening, and please pass the gluten free soy sauce, I'm having sushi!

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