Monday, January 10, 2011

Can Allergy-Friendly Restaurants Increase Profits?

by Kelley Lindberg

Paul Antico, a former stock fund manager and father of a food-allergic child, has written an article called “How Much Are Food-Allergic Diners Worth?”  In this article, Antico uses his background in finances to estimate how much a restaurant can lose or gain, depending on whether that restaurant is willing to accommodate food allergies.

His results are eye-opening for anyone who’s never really thought about the issue, and happily confirming for those of us whose “gut feelings” have been telling us that restaurants that aren’t willing to accommodate food allergies are losing a significant number of potential customers. And those willing to accommodate food allergies not only retain those customers, but they gain new ones who get turned off by the not-so-friendly ones. In fact, his estimates show a “9% or greater potential increase in business for an allergy-friendly restaurant.”

Antico founded the restaurant rating website, where customers can rate restaurants based on their food allergy experience there. The site lists over 600,000 restaurants, including many in Utah, although many of them have not been rated yet. In cities where a significant number of people have rated their local restaurants, it’s a great resource for finding places to take your family. In places like Utah, it can become a great resource – it just needs people like us to take a couple of minutes to rate the restaurants we’re familiar with, so that we can spread the word about those places that have gone out of their way to make our families feel safe.

Hopefully Antico’s article will get picked up and published by newspapers around the country. It clearly lays out the issue in terms most business owners understand – profit numbers. As more business owners comprehend numbers like this, more restaurants will begin to open their doors to families like ours. In the meantime, we can use to start sharing which restaurants welcome our business.

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