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Almost got kicked out of Applebees-Want Advice

44 replies [Last post]
By KKline on Mon, 06-19-06, 12:10

We almost got kicked out of Applebee

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By Jenna on Mon, 06-19-06, 12:42

We had our physician write a letter (that we carry with us) asking that we please be allowed to bring in our own food due to the nature of our son's severe food allergies.

As far as it being a problem if your child got sick on food you brought in ... I think you could have also pointed out to them that if your son got sick on their food after they advised it would be safe would not have been a good situation for them either.

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By notnutty on Mon, 06-19-06, 13:20

We are not a fan of Applebees either. It seems that they are always in a CYA mode. Your child was not causing harm and in reality any "liability" is a load of **** . Any lawsuit would merely point out that the food was not from Applebees and that would be the end of it. I know lots of people on the board have had very negitive experiences with Applebees. They don't understand food allergies. We have not been to an Applebees in a long time since we made a last minute stop with my PA son and the manager did not know if anything was safe. He also gave us the 1-800 story...if you called our 1-800 number...blah, blah, blah.

A little education could go along way, but the company has decided not to educate their staff. I won't eat there anymore even if my pa son is not with.


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By Lindajo on Mon, 06-19-06, 13:20

Before we were dealing with my DD's PA, a similar thing happened to us when my son was younger. He was on this stage where he would only eat Burger King chicken tenders. The rest (there were 6 of us) of us did not want to eat there and we didn't want to have him sit watching us eat at the place we wanted. So, we got take-out for him and went to our fave restaurant that served pizza/mexican. We all ordered something, the bill was about $50 or so.

Now, my DS was only about 4 at the time. The manager came to us and reprimanded us that we had brought our own food. I explained to him that it was the only thing my son would eat and we chose to bring the rest of us to "his" restaurant. I also reminded him that we were ordering a fair amount of food and the amount of our bill. He argued that he didn't believe that there was nothing on the menu my son would like. I argued that he probably didn't have children and didn't understand the stages they go through.

We ended up staying there, ate our food, paid the bill, (left a lousy tip!) but the manager was not happy. I asked him, would you be more happy with an unhappy toddler in your restaurant (as my son ate quietly)? I also told him that word of mouth travels far and I would not recommend his restaurant to family and friends and they were not "customer" friendly.

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By joeybeth on Mon, 06-19-06, 15:44

whenever we eat out at restaurants we are not comfortable with for our two PA girls (ages 7 and 10 now), we allow them to bring in a bag of whatever "safe" food they have selected from their favorite safe fastfood places. we have never had a problem with it although i always feel "tacky" carrying in food from elsewhere; same feeling i get when i smuggle "safe" food into the movies in my purse. (that's just me). but, i'd rather feel "tacky" than worry about my girls' safety.

i can't imagine a restaurant being upset that a family brought in food from elsewhere for young children; particularly when there are fa's involved and the rest of the family is ordering from the restaurant's menu.

these days, whether restaurants or movies or other situations like parties, i just tell myself (and others) that we have extenuating circumstances that make it impossible for our girls to follow the regular rules sometimes. safety first for us.

btw, i think it's just awful what the staff at applebees did to you and your family. i can't imagine how you felt. for us, we've never experienced anything but positive reactions when we explain our situation. just in case, we won't be visiting applebees though. : ) boo for applebees!!!

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By krasota on Mon, 06-19-06, 17:13

Applebee's has never been able to accomodate me in even the slightest of ways. When a bunch of friends wanted to hit Applebee's at an alumni event, I stopped at Taco Bell (it was still safe for my soy allergy back then) and picked up food, then went to Applebee's and sat down.

The waitress came by and I quickly quizzed her on whether I could order *anything*. She said she didn't think so, but was sweet about it. I winked and said that I'd order a coke and tip her well if she ignored my taco bell food. She grinned and grabbed a clean plate, told me to dish it up and she'd throw away the evidence that it wasn't from the store.

Granted, she *was* flirting with me pretty heavily (hey, I don't mind!), but I did eat my brought-in food without issue. And when she comped my soda, I slipped her a ten. She'd earned it. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]


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By shoshana18 on Mon, 06-19-06, 18:04

we always bring food in for my dd. i don't let her eat any restaurant food right now (dairy and nut allergies). we have never had any problems whatsoever at any restaurant (applebee's included). however, we NEVER would think of bringing in a "competitor's" food. i think that is where you are all running into trouble. we always bring food from home.

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By SallyL on Mon, 06-19-06, 18:53

What? How incredibly rude. I would definately be writing a letter to Applebees about the treatment you received.

And puh-lease...like a court would actually rule against them if you sued them because your son got sick from eating McDonald's food in their restaurant. How ridiculous is that. Grr..I'm angry for you!

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By Momcat on Mon, 06-19-06, 21:18

My experience with Applebee's is that they are clueless about allergies. For instance, I once inquired whether the buns contain egg. The waitress assured me that they did not, but when the food came, the buns were yellowish. So I asked her again, are you absolutely sure there is no egg in this bun, because often when the buns are yellow they contain egg. So she goes back to actually check the ingredients--sure enough, the bun had egg in it.


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By cathlina on Tue, 06-20-06, 00:39

Gee...it is almost like they would rather have you leave him at home (alone) or sit in the car (alone.)

I would file a complaint with your state civil rights commission.

Of course, if it had happened to me I would have gotten very loud.

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By shoshana18 on Tue, 06-20-06, 01:27

you know, it would be polite of them to allow your child to eat outside food.

AND IT WOULD BE POLITE OF YOU if you did not parade in a McDonald's cup.

it's give and take, people!

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By shoshana18 on Tue, 06-20-06, 01:33

by the way, couldn't you have at least purchased a soda instead of bringing in the mcdonald's cup? it's all about how you present it to the restaurant, i believe. and you are not doing the peanut-allergic community a favor by not being accommodating as well. THEN, if you are accommodating and the restaurant is not, you have room to complain, IMHO.

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By joeybeth on Tue, 06-20-06, 04:26


i think you need to give this family a break (and all the rest of us that dine out the very same way when necessary). with young kids, half the fun of going out is getting to eat food that ISN"T from home. my girls would be majorly bummed out if we were enjoying our delicious food and they were having some soggy sandwich brought from home. one of the few perks of having PA (if there are any), is that they get to chose whatever they want - including however many trips to different drive thru's it takes before we end up at the restaurant the rest of us chose.

and, i think it's safe to say that no one eating in applebees is going to wish they had some "delicious" food from mcdonalds. good grief. most people, including myself, would just feel sorry for the fa kid who misses out on most of the good things everyone else in the place is getting to have. no one in their right mind would choose what my kids get stuck with most of the time.

i agree with you that it would be best, if possible, to leave the mcd's cup in the car and order a cup from the restaurant. however, i don't think it's rude of people with fa children to bring in an alternate, safe meal or even a drink. big deal. i think most people realize that the drink came with the meal.

when my family of six goes out, even if the two youngest (both PA) don't order form the menu, we still order an appetizer and four adult sized meals along with drinks for 4-6 people. we always leave a more than generous tip and are never demanding or rude. we do appreciate people accommodating our needs and never fail to be thankful. kkline sounds like her family would have appreciated some consideration from applebees....not the other way around.

[This message has been edited by joeybeth (edited June 20, 2006).]

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By shoshana18 on Tue, 06-20-06, 04:35

and my point is...if you want consideration/accommodations from a business (and we, as the food-allergic community, do), you get more flies with honey than vinegar!

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By joeybeth on Tue, 06-20-06, 04:41

.....and that is why i always preface our visit with "we love eating her so much and hate it that our kids cannot....we appreciate you allowing them to bring in an alternate dinner so we can enjoy your great restaurant together as a family...blah...blah...blah."

however, i will continue to bring in my kids' food (and drink, if they wish) when necessary because they deserve special consideration as well. my kids do without a lot because of PA and i'm not going to take away anything else. most (actually ALL in our experience) get that when it's explained to them. applebees clearly did not "get it" when kkline's family attempted to spend their money in their restaurant.

the great thing is, kkline and family can now spend their money in other area restaurants that are more accommodating and family friendly.

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By joeybeth on Tue, 06-20-06, 04:46

hope i'm not coming across too angry, shoshanna. just wanted to say that i believe i represent the food allergy group very well when i go out. i literally hate imposing on others and inconveniencing others. i am polite and apologetic to a fault when our situation makes others uncomfortable. however, when it comes to my kids, they make enough sacrifices every day due to PA. i think dining out should be fun for them whenever possible. most people understand this when it's presented to them. we catch flies all the time. : )

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By shoshana18 on Tue, 06-20-06, 04:57

joeybeth, you are not coming across too angry and i hope i am not either.

i totally agree that if any of us find that a restaurant (or any business) is not friendly, helpful, or accommodating, the best thing we can do is spend our $$$ someplace else.

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By becca on Tue, 06-20-06, 11:45

Wow. I have never had a problem, but also only bring food from home if we do that. These days, we have 2-3 places we go where dd does get food and that is all we do with the kids for now. SInce the *do* like it so much now. But when we brought(and we do if out fo town and unfamiliar) we explained right away.

Krasota's idea is great. Asking for a plate and purchasing a beverage.

But, I cannot believe, after the management approached, they simply didn't make you put the food on their plates and in their glasses. Done and fixed. Duh. becca

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By KKline on Tue, 06-20-06, 12:23

Thanks for all your replies. About bringing in a drink. I can't tell you how long its been since we have done this. The grandparents bought him a mighty meal. We very rarely purchase the drinks for the kids. Yes he does feel left out that he can't eat with us when we go out so that is why we buy his food out too. Also we were traveling. I called Applebees and they said they have a strict policy with not brining in any food. They were surprised that the manager at the end told me next time they could put our food on a plate. I am so surprised that they just asked us to leave after we started eating and not before when the waiter new we had brought food in. I should be hearing back from Corporate within 4 days. I am looking into filing a suit with the Us Deptartment of Civil Rights.

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By MommaBear on Tue, 06-20-06, 13:43

Quote:Originally posted by KKline:
[b] I called Applebees and they said they have a strict policy with not brining in any food. [/b]

IS IT ANY WONDER?? I ate there once. Actually, we didn't eat what they served. We told them we would not be eating, would pay the bill if they so desired, and upon resolving that, LEFT. I'm not surprised they wouldn't want "McDonald's" in their restaurant. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/tongue.gif[/img]

Our mistake. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img] We really try to eat at places that don't view "McDonald's" as competition. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

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By bethc on Tue, 06-20-06, 15:39

We ate at an Applebee's this past weekend. When I called in advance about the food I'd be ordering for my PA DD, they actually recommended I bring my own ranch dressing from home since they couldn't tell me with certainty what kind of oil theirs had in it. But we did order her a meal from their restaurant, so maybe that's why they allowed that. They said that their macaroni & cheese on the kids' menu is just Kraft Easy Mac. When we were discussing the salad dressing, the guy said that they wouldn't want her to have a reaction because they weren't sure about something they were serving her. So I was glad he understood that it was serious, but I wish they'd know what's in their food.

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By smudgesgarden on Tue, 06-20-06, 16:27

i havent been to apple bees since ds fa arived. but i think that the first big mistake was to bring in food from a diffrent resturant. if you had brought in food from home like a sandwich or something like that and then orderd something from the resturant like fries and a drink i think things would have turned out diffrently. ive done this at friendlys and at a local joint around here with out any problems, . just dont flaunt a diffrent companies logo in a resturant and they ususly will look the other way.
after all the resturant wants to make money, and you choosing to be a customer of applebees you should be spending your money there not bringing in other food.

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By KKline on Tue, 06-20-06, 17:49

let me remind you that we were traveling. And have done this for 9 years! We weren't flaunting anything. They knew up front that we brought food in and didn't stop us. They waited and waited. Also I checked and the Fries are not safe for kids who have wheat allergies. It is very hard to accomodate Wheat, Milk and peanut allergies in a restaurant. According to Applebees, no outside food is allowed. Even your own sadwich.

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By gw_mom3 on Tue, 06-20-06, 18:22

When we were in Vegas a couple of years ago my parents and sisters wanted to have a big dinner at a buffet. My sister went and spoke with the restaurant first about bringing in food for my kids due to dd's allergies and they did not want us to. My sister is quite good at being persuasive and was able to talk them into letting us bring in BK food, but they were not happy about it. It's too bad these places are so unreceptive (is that a word??) to those with food allergies. We have no plans to ever go to applebees anyway but this reinforces it.


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By jtolpin on Tue, 06-20-06, 19:12

Do you have any rights here?

I dont know, actually. Im not a lawyer [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

But the whole incident sounds like it was NOT handled properly.

Could have, and SHOULD have, been handled better.

Maybe if you had told them, going in, that a child with FA's is coming in, and we'd like to BYO food for him (which he had already...) otherwise we can't go in.

I would think they would have done what was suggested - grab a plate, cup etc.. for your childs food/drink.

When we went out to eat with Caitlin (pre age 2) we'd BYO food - never an issue. But its something we brought from home, in a baggie, a sippie cup, or whatever... kwim?

Going out is tough for everyone.


[b]* Obsessed * [/b]

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By Corvallis Mom on Tue, 06-20-06, 20:34

We tend to be quite matter-of-fact about this sort of thing... when it comes up, which is seldom, to put it mildly.

Anyway.... we ask to speak to the manager if we are challenged, and we explain to them that they have two choices:

1. Assume the liability and terrible publicity of killing my child by serving her something they can't guarantee is free of her allergens (she is also anaphylactic to trace egg)....

2. Sell the rest of us food and let [i]us[/i] assume the liability for feeding my daughter.

If they still seem to not want to choose option 2, then we explain that we will not be back, nor can we encourage others to go to their establishment. And we leave. (Or we would.... generally a discussion of potential litigation with the manager takes care of this point... heheheh.) Seriously, I will actually ask, "Are you assuming the liability...."

We are [i]not[/i] subtle about bringing food (and drink, occasionally) in for our DD. But we make a point of buying something for the other members of the party. ALWAYS.

I would definitely complain to corporate and let them know you [i]will not be back to spend your money with them.[/i]

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By krasota on Wed, 06-21-06, 05:31

I forgot about the *last* time I went to an Applebee's. They said they'd give me a plain baked potato, untouched by latex gloves, but that they wouldn't let me bring in my own butter, sour cream, and cheese (all discreetly packaged in small tupperware containers. Their own toppings weren't safe for me. My uncle asked if they'd rather call 911 and they got quiet and let me eat.

I had to leave early, because they also refused to remove the (latex) balloons which were tied to practically every chair and table. I only wanted the ones near me moved, and I was against a wall, so it only affected my table.

*sigh* I didn't have a cute waitress willing to flirt with me that time.

Needless to say, I don't see any reason to give them any more business. They obviously don't want it.


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By BS312 on Thu, 06-22-06, 00:08

We always bring DD's food to restaurants and have never had a problem. We will never go to Applebee's again because it is extremely smoky, the food is bad, and they have treated others with FA poorly!

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By VariegatedRB on Thu, 06-22-06, 01:36

What bugs me about this situation is that they knew from the moment you walked in that you brought the food. You explained why... BUT they let you order and LATER said to leave.

Tara P

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By abigailsmoma on Fri, 06-23-06, 10:43

That is crazy! Does the menu say you can't bring in outside food or is it posted on the outside door?
We usually have to take my little angels food with us. We have had to many reactions from places that just didn't get.
Sorry for your bad experience.

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By Gail W on Fri, 06-23-06, 14:55

I didn't see anything on their website that Applebee's has a policy that outside food may not be brought into their restaurants. So I asked them. If I get a response I'll post it.

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By kkeene on Fri, 06-23-06, 22:38

Wow I am shocked

We have in the past brought in McD's or Wendy's to places such as Applebees, chilis, outback, etc... Never had a problem
However I carry it in under my coat & then say sorry & explain & ask for a plate (and keep the bad low Not on the table)

We have eaten at Applebees & have so far always had a great experience. They always double check everything. mys son is Egg & peanut (legume) allergic so we have a hamburger patty with fries & choc. milk.

I have always been happy with them perhaps we have better managers for customer service. We are in Mich

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By Gail W on Mon, 06-26-06, 16:08

Here is my response fro Applebee's:

[i]Dear Gail,

I'm sorry, but it is against health department regulations to bring food into a restaurant.


Alex Bresette
Guest Relations Manager
Ref # 455972

From Address:
Received: 2006-06-25 15:46:12
Subject: Re: Thank you for contacting Applebee's! Your case number 455972
Contents: I understand. Can you please tell me, does Applebee's allow me to
bring in food (home prepared) for my daughter who is food allergic ?[/i]

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By Gail W on Mon, 06-26-06, 16:36

Hmmmm..... the health department regulation sited by Applebee's didn't seem to apply in this Wisconsin case.

From here: [url="http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/octdec05.htm"]http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/octdec05.htm[/url]

[i]In Wisconsin, a couple complained that they were not allowed to bring food into a restaurant for their young son who has severe food allergies. The owner of the restaurant, who also owns two other restaurants, agreed to allow persons to bring outside food into the restaurants if needed due to a disability. The restaurants trained their employees and posted the policy on their websites.[/i]

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By Momcat on Mon, 06-26-06, 19:23

Good find, Gail! I wonder what Applebee's would say if you forwarded that item to them...


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By Gail W on Mon, 06-26-06, 21:28

A asked them to show me the regulation. If I receive a response to my request, I'll be sure to post it.

[i] I would appreciate it if you would please point me to this health department regulation. Is it Federal? State? or Local? Please link me, if possible, to the regulation to which you are referring.

Thank you again,

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By rebekahc on Tue, 06-27-06, 03:43

Health department regulations also do not allow animals into restaurants, but their rules do not apply to persons with disabilities who have service animals...

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By KKline on Tue, 06-27-06, 16:15

I got my reply from the regional Applebee's in Sioux Falls, SD:
Thank you for contacting us via Applebee's guest relations. I talked with Mr. List at the Watertown Applebee's about the incident with your son's meal. I know dealing with food allergies can be extremely difficult. Mr. List told me that he gave you the number you can call for Applebee's to find out answers to any questions you have concerning our menu items and how they may affect your son's food allergies. I do hope you will use it and call in with any questions you may have. As for our policy on this issue, we will do all we can to accommodate food allergies but we do ask that you not bring food into our restaurant which contains labeling from another restaurant. I'm sure you can understand that having other customers seeing bags, etc. from another restaurant will make them question why. I am sorry if we offended you in any way on your visit. Mr. List told me that your meals were complimentary on your visit and I hope that has compensated you for any inconvenience. In the future, we simply ask that you do call the Applebee's number for more information on the food items and their content. If you feel you must bring food, please ask for a plate for it so that the packaging from another restaurant is not seen. Sincerely Applebee's - I believe the reason that he paid for the meal could have been due to the fact that my mom had a piece of plastic in her potatoes that the waiter saw her pull out. Also I called the 800 number and it wasn't helpful. He can't eat the fries because of wheat or dairy. And they weren't sure what was in the beef. They also weren't sure which Applebees would have a baked potato. Some good that does. Kami


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By Gail W on Tue, 06-27-06, 17:33

Here was the latest response from Applebee's:

[i]Dear Gail,

Thank you for your email below. I am researching the answer - utilizing our quality assurance team, operations and legal department. I want to make sure that I give you a thorough answer this time; thank you for your patience.

I plan to have an answer by this time tomorrow, if not sooner. Either way, I will keep you in the loop.


Alex Bresette
Guest Relations Manager
Ref # 455972[/i]

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By gw_mom3 on Wed, 06-28-06, 08:02

Ha! I don't think they expected you to call them on it.


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By BaileyB on Wed, 06-28-06, 12:49

Apparently, one manager at Applebees is taking the "no outside food" rule a bit far:



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By Peg541 on Wed, 06-28-06, 15:32

Is it possible that you could keep a supply of plain paper bags in your car so you could repackage any outside labelled food you bring in? Or some of those clear plastic take out trays you can just dump the outside food in.

From the answer you got it seems as if labelled foods are the problem and I can understand this.

It also seems from the response, they do not understand cross contamination so I would say their "safe" foods are still not safe.

All in all I think you got a nice response and they seem to be trying to please you/us and at the same time clarify their own position which they might not be too sure of right now.

I always say give the world time to catch up with what we already know. FA's are relatively new, new in their large numbers anyway. We are forced to become experts but the rest of the world needs to be allowed to catch up.


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By Gail W on Wed, 06-28-06, 17:08

I agree 100%, Peg. It's the labeling seems to be the sticking point, which is why I wanted to see how they responded to the whole "health department regulation". It might be bogus, or it may exist but not apply under the ADA. It will be interesting to see what Applebee's research finds.

But personally I think it's time for Applebee's corporate headquarters to educate themselves about food allergies so they can, in turn, educate their management.

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By gw_mom3 on Wed, 06-28-06, 22:27

Quote:Originally posted by BaileyB:
[b]Apparently, one manager at Applebees is taking the "no outside food" rule a bit far:


OK now that just ticks me off and reinforces my decision to never step foot inside an Applebees, ever. I nursed all three of my kids and if someone had the nerve to ask me to go in the bathroom (where I don't even like to GO TO THE BATHROOM since public restrooms are so nasty) I would have to tell them where they could stick it.


eta: maybe I'm being petty but does anyone notice all the typos in that news story? I know that people have trouble typing and/or spelling but a news website??


[This message has been edited by gw_mom3 (edited June 28, 2006).]

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By Gail W on Sat, 07-08-06, 21:03

I thought I'd update my own personal experience with Applebee's. . .

After reading this thread, I contacted Applebee's via their website, and then received a phone call from the customer service rep with whom I had corresponded. He said that this situation would be handled on a case-by-case basis because it depended on several factors including state laws and who owned the particular restaurant (franchise owner vs. corporately owned). He was exceptionally nice and wanted to help. I told him the three area Applebee's that we'd likely visit and he said he would contact the owner/managers personally and explain our situation. He also sent me the following letter via US mail (on letterhead) so that I could show the manager should I get a conflicting message from them:

[i]Dear Mrs. W,

Per our conversation today, you may bring in non-Applebee's food for your daughter into the Applebee's located at X, Y, and Z.

It was my pleasure to talk with you today and I wish you and your family the best of health. If I can ever be of service, please feel free to contact me directly.

Alex Bresette
Guest Relations Manager
Applebee's International, Inc. [/i]

So I'll carry this in my purse. A sorta "get out of jail free" pass. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img] I suggested that they have a section on their website re FAs and how they handle special dietary needs.

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