Last night at work, I was told of a customer who came in earlier this week presenting one of those cards that stated every single thing she was allergic too. From coconut to sesame seeds to asparagus, she gave us the run down of the things the can’t eat. This, before even looking at our menu to see if we have coconut, sesame seeds or asparagus on our menu. Serving people with allergies can be an arduous task, but I now present to you the definitive guide to dealing with people who are allergic to fucking everything:
- Let them know that this is a joint effort and that we aren’t going to choose their food for them like they are children. They need to look at the menu so they can make an informed decision based on their needs. They can’t just hand us a two-page, single-spaced sheet of paper with a list of food they can’t eat and expect us to craft an entree just for them. What you say: “Let’s work together on this so we can ensure a satisfying and safe meal for you, ma’am.” What you think: “Bitch, if you know you can’t eat gluten, then just skip right over the whole pasta section.”
- If a customer has a food allergy, assure them that you can handle this responsibility. Sometimes they think that because we are servers, we must be idiots as well. I am always surprised at how many people think that being a server is so easy that a monkey can do it and that we must be so stupid that there is literally no other job we can do, but they are suddenly willing to put 100% trust in us to not accidentally serve them a peanut and kill them. Remind them that we got this.
- Ask them if they are allergic, intolerant or just trying to adhere to the latest fad diet. There is a difference between a shellfish allergy not liking shrimp and we deserve to know where they fall within the spectrum. Be careful though, because you have to do this a very nice. For instance, you could say, “Are you sure you’re allergic to dairy? I mean I left the bleu cheese out of your Cobb salad but I watched you suck down that ice cream that came with your friend’s chocolate cake.”
- Communicate with the kitchen and anyone else who might come in contact with their food and be sure to tell the customer that you have sent out an APB about their needs so they feel taken care of. This is super important, because even though the chicken doesn’t normally have any butter on it and you don’t feel like you need to tell the kitchen to leave it off, maybe that day the chicken looked extra dry so a cook added a dab of butter and now your customer is going to die. Good job.
- Once the food is served, make sure their face isn’t swelling up like a giant balloon. If it is you have to options. The first is to apologize profusely, give them an epi pen and hope for the best. The second option is to take off your apron and run the fuck away.