Monday, July 25, 2011

Touring Chili's Restaurant

by Kelley Lindberg

Every summer, I work with several other moms to arrange educational experiences and field trips for our kids during the summer – it’s kind of a co-op summer day camp. Last week, we went on a tour of the Chili’s Restaurant in Layton, Utah.

The main reason I chose this Chili’s is because I know my son’s best friend has been able to eat there despite his allergies to milk, egg, nuts, peanuts, and seafood. His mom has worked with one of the managers there several times, and they have always agreed to make his dinner safe for him.

When I called and explained to the manager Charles that we wondered if our group of 11 kids and 5 moms could have a “behind-the-scenes” tour of the kitchen, he bent over backwards for us. He had us come at 10:00 in the morning (before the restaurant opened), gave us a tour of the whole kitchen, had one of his managers (Scott) talk to us about what kind of training it takes to become a cook at Chili’s, and so on.

They also took the time to talk to us about how they handle food allergies, from how they separate their food preparation areas and their grill surfaces, to the menus they can show their customers. Chili’s actually has a whole set of allergy information on their website – updated every month – that breaks down their menu by the 8 most common allergens. If you’re allergic to milk, they have a list of suggested items you can order. If you’re allergic to eggs, there’s a different list for you. If you have multiple allergens, it’s a little more complicated, because you have to compare the lists until you find items that work for all your allergies. But still, the lists seem complete and very helpful. You can download the Chili’s Allergy Information here.

The managers printed out a copy of all 8 allergen menus for each of the kids in our group (2 of them have food allergies, but all of them care about each other), and answered all our questions. We were all very impressed with how helpful the manager and his staff were, and how they really seemed responsive to our food allergy needs in particular.

There’s never a guarantee, of course, when it comes to food allergies – accidents can happen at any time – but it’s nice to see yet another restaurant chain really take food allergy issues to heart and understand how important it is to take their customers’ concerns seriously.

Thanks, Chili’s, for giving us such a great tour… and for serving us such a wonderful and SAFE lunch afterwards!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

However, the list does not include msg (monosodium glutamate) or autolyzed yeast extract.