Restaurants: how do you think your message comes across?

Eating out 08.10.2021

One of the things I find most interesting when I eat out, or look for somewhere to eat with my family, is the message that restaurants include on their website or at the bottom of their menus.

For me and the millions of people out there eating out with allergies or coeliac disease, this is a very big deal. You might think, as a restauranteur, that by writing “you are eating here at your own risk”, you are covering your own back. However, you are actually telling your diners that “if you eat here and get sick or worse, end up in hospital, it’s not your fault”. Not quite how things work. If you sent someone to hospital, and it turns out that the food contained decent amounts of the offending ingredient, it is indeed your fault and your risk adverse policy might indeed work against you.

I completely understand the messaging “we can’t 100% guarantee” as, let’s face it, there’s never a guarantee in life! However, if that message is then followed by a “we have strong processes in place to avoid cross-contamination and we take allergies and dietary requirements very seriously”, this is a completely different story and I am totally fine with that. Most restaurants displaying this message are incredible at managing cross-contamination in their kitchens, and clearly know what they are doing.

Then you have some food venues where on the menu they simply say “let us know if you have any dietary requirements” and clearly state they cater for all allergies. THIS is a super reassuring message and one that will make feel more comfortable eating at your restaurant! 

As my website continues to grow and more and more people start leaving reviews, it’s important for businesses to reflect on their communications with their customers and how to gain their loyalty. And your messages and PR are key. I will be having dinner at my local French restaurant tonight, where I know me and my family (and our allergies) are welcome. Where will you have dinner next? Will you leave a positive review?