Monday, November 30, 2009

Positively Red Robin

Last night, my husband, son, mother-in-law and I went to Red Robin for dinner. We’ve eaten there before, but usually my son has eaten off the kid’s menu, and we’ve asked about nuts and peanuts in the alfredo sauce and the chicken fingers, and we’ve been fine.

Now that he’s getting older (he’s eleven now!), he’s getting more adventurous and he wants to order things off the regular menu. My friend Kim had told me that Red Robin has an extensive list for allergic customers of what to order and how to order it, broken down by the eight common food allergens. Of course, we didn’t go by the house before deciding to get dinner, so I couldn’t check the list she’d emailed me.

When we got to the restaurant, I asked the waitress about “the list” and she told me she’d go check. In a minute, the manager was at my table asking about our needs. I told him, and he ran off to get the list, printed it off, and brought it right back to me. He told me it looked like my son could order the burger he wanted, just without the Red Robin Seasoning on the patty or on the steak fries.

So that’s what we ordered. In a few minutes, the waitress brought our food out, and said the manager was making sure my son’s burger was cooked correctly. Sure enough, in about thirty seconds, the manager walked out with my son’s plate. Then, several times during the meal, the manager and waitress both stopped by to check on us.

I have to tell you, I was impressed. I don’t recall ever getting such gracious attention for my son’s allergies at a restaurant before. They seemed to go out of their way to take us seriously, to do everything they could to help, and to keep checking to make sure we were doing well.

Meanwhile, my mother-in-law was even more surprised than I was. Not being around us more than a week or two each year, she is still surprised at how much effort it takes to avoid peanuts and tree nuts. She has seen me order for my son and ask about allergens, but she’s never experienced anything like the service we got last night. When she was raising children, of course, few people had food allergies, and fewer still would have known the first thing about handling them. She’s learned a lot from our experience. And as she watched the manager and waitress cater to us last night, she remarked at how much more aware everyone seems to be now than when we started this odyssey ten years ago.

What a difference a decade makes.

This morning, I sent an email to Red Robin’s comment section on their website complimenting the waitress and manager. I also asked a question that is bothering me. The allergen list that the manager brought me said that for peanut allergies, we should ask for the burger and steak fries without the Red Robin Seasoning. However, the bottle of “Red Robin Seasoning” sitting on the table said nothing about peanut contamination, and listed “Soy” as the only allergen. So I asked if the seasoning on the table is different from the seasoning in the kitchen, or if the bottle on the table should include a peanut warning. I will let you know what I hear from them.

In the meantime, I checked their website for the list of what and how to order for each allergen, and the only one they had online is for wheat and gluten. (See Red Robin's Wheat/Gluten Menu List.) For all other allergens, you must send them an email through the Red Robin General Inquiry contact form. Be specific about which of the 8 common allergens you have, and allow at least a couple of days to get the reply.

If you eat at Red Robin, I hope your experience is as positive as mine was!


Ann said...

Hi Kelley,
I have a 23 year old son who is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, as well as milk and egg. You might be interested in the food allergy specific restaurant reviews on You can also enter your Red Robin story if you would like to share it with more people. Thanks.

Kelley J. P. Lindberg said...

Thanks for letting me know about this site! I'll check it out for sure!

Anonymous said...

we ate at Red Robin today, and I had the exact same thought about the seasoning bottle on the table.
Just curious, did you ever find anything out?