1% is important

Cater For Food Allergies- make more money and happy customers

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If you don't cater for the 1% you are losing money.

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Why are you loosing money? Mainly because people with food allergies have friends, they still go out. If you don’t have to anything to offer for them they are not going to your venue.

Plenty of bar owners are taking advantage of the fact that lots of customers are particular about what they eat. No matter if it is for a healthier lifestyle or because of a horrible disease there is money to be made.

If there is a group of 10 people going out and one of them has a food allergy the person with the allergy normally has the final say on where the group of 10 is going. So if you don’t cater for that one person you just lost a group of 10.

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What  allergy should I cater for?

Sorry, but you need to adapt to all of them. There are 100’s, but some more severe than others. No, this does not mean that you need to have 100 different letters on your menu. It just means you should understand them and figure out what small changes to make.

The main allergies to label are Nuts (N) Gluten (G) Dairy (D) Vegan (V).

food allergies in bars
Photo by Radu Marcusu on Unsplash

You think you cater for them?

We have noticed that lots of bars think they cater for the allergies by having a plain salad with nothing else or they have one item in the menu that suits people with allergies.

Sorry, but this is not going to win over these people, there are plenty of options out there now and lots of bars are providing options. So if you are not you are certainly loosing business to your competition.

Also, not stating on your menu what is and isn’t allergen free is another way to loose business. Most people with sever allergies are embarrassed about their disease in a way. So when they have to ask what items in the menu are for example “Gluten free” they feel embarrassed.  The worst is if your staff does not know what gluten is, the trust is lost and they will never return.

It's just a fad!

Time and time again we hear of staff not caring about the customers that have allergies, thinking it is just a fad. We are not going to have a go at the staff too much as we have seen people coming in and asking for Gluten Free meal with their beer that is full of gluten.  Yes, for some people it is is a fad and hipsters do ruin everything.

It is hard to tell who could end up in hospital from you not caring. So what you need to do is make sure your staff treats every person like it could be life or death.

In some countries you and your business can be criminally charged and end up in jail if you say something is allergy free and it is not.

So learn and train your staff.

How to Cater

If you are going to cater for people with allergies you need to have good systems in place to protect meals from any cross contamination.
This is not just about the people that have severe food allergy and end up in hospital. It is also for the ones that get sick and need to rush to the toilet after they eat your contaminated food. Which is not how you want your customers remembering their experience at your bar.
So we find the best way is to grab your chef and write down everything that could create problems. Example- fries, do they contain gluten as lots do. Oils and sauces, some have gluten or nuts.
Your fryer- do you use it for any other food that contains allergens in it.
Once you know where your problems are you can fix them.
Talk to your suppliers about replacing the products with ones that are allergen free. Your costs will go up, but you should receive more patrons so you will make it back.
Test it! You don’t want to serve it if it does not taste good so test it out. With the gluten free people they are used to food not tasting quite right so don’t worry about them. They are just happy to eat. Worry about your 99% first and if you can’t make it taste good for both, see if you can have a allergen free option. example burger with option of GF, DF.

Lots to come

There are so many things to talk about when it comes to bar kitchens. We will have lots more about cleaning kitchen properly and more about how to cater for people with allergies later.

But for the time begin go ask your staff what has gluten in it? Do you know yourself?  Do you know that using the same fry pan can cross-contaminate food? As little as 1 bread crumb can send Celiacs to the emergency room.

Just have a look at how you cater for them and see if there are any quick, easy improvements you can make.

Look at your menu, does it say if you have allergy free options?

Tell us what you think and any advice you might have.


Jason Masson

Jason Masson

22 just out of college and love to find new and interesting drinking spots. My favourite bar is the next one I visit.

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