Ways to Accommodate Gluten-Free Diners

Lately it seems every other person who dines out is looking for a gluten-free menu or gluten-free options. From fast casual to fine dining, all restaurateurs are faced with having to provide options for diners with celiac disease on a much more frequent basis. Around 1 in 10 diners nowadays request a gluten-free menu when ordering outside of the home. The biggest struggle restaurants face is being underprepared in serving diners with special needs. It is best to really understand allergies, intolerances and celiac disease as a whole so you can keep diners safe and coming into your restaurant for years to come.

Whether your diners have special dietary preferences or become extremely ill after ingesting specific foods, it is important to treat each individual with respect. It’s your job as a restaurateur / food service professional to accommodate all guests and it really will pay off. So, what is gluten, what is celiac disease and what are some great ways to accommodate gluten-free diners? Read on to best understand the basics of gluten-free dining and all its components.

What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and other various grains.

What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune, digestive disorder. When someone with celiac disease ingests even a trace amount of gluten it damages the healthy villi in their small intestines. The symptoms include bloating, flatulence, anemia and can be extremely severe based on the circumstances.

What are some great, quick facts regarding Celiac Disease?
● Even a trace amount could make someone sick
● There is no known cure
● 2.5 million Americans are undiagnosed
● Around 1 in 133 people are believed to have celiac disease
● Can develop at any age
● Celiac disease is hereditary (not guaranteed to be passed along but people whose direct family members have it are more susceptible)

Great Ways to Accommodate GF diners
● Ensure your cooking surfaces are clean and avoid cross-contact
● Train all staff on what gluten is and how to handle guests with special dietary restrictions
● Don’t lie to your guests, always inquire from the higher-ups / labels if you aren’t sure
● Offer safe, clean alternatives
● Take every case seriously and treat diners with the utmost respect

When there is a party of 20 dining out for a special occasion and one person has celiac disease, the other 19 will most likely choose a restaurant who can cater to that one person’s needs. Happy diners are more likely to recommend a restaurant, especially to their friends who have the same dietary restrictions they do. It is best practice to prepare yourself and your team for all diners so you can offer the most personalized service to each diner and the chances they will become repeat customers is astronomically larger!