Well, I think I'm starting to get the hang of the "question-asking" game, and am now getting frustrated by some of the unhelpful places I've encountered.
For instance, Olive Garden. Anyone have experience with this chain? I called the corporate office and got a very unhelpful attitude from the person on the phone. Basically, she said they cook in extra virgin olive oil, but they recommend that peope with food allergies don't eat there (!) because they won't guarantee anything. She said their vendors change too often to keep up with the stuff I need to know and that they wouldn't even tell me ingredients if I went to our local restaurant. What?! How can that be? We've only been dealing with this allergy (our son's) for a few months and this is the second restaurant that has given us a standard "cover their fannies" kind of answer (the first was Applebee's). Is this the norm? Overall, do you find that chain restaurants are more helpful in determining safety? Or small locally-owned restaurants?
On Jan 20, 2000
My son is severely PA and has been since he was 12 mos. Olive Garden and Appleby's are 2 of the main restaurants that we feel comfortable going to (besides the usual McDonald's Happy Meal!). We have been to both places numerous times since he was diagnosed and we've never had a problem. At Appleby's, he sticks with the hot dog kid's meal, and at Olive Garden he eats salad, breadsticks, and spaghetti. We live in the NW suburbs of Chicago and have visited several of both of these restaurants in our area. But once again as several people on this site advise, you must feel comfortable with your decision to take your child there. We've had only pleasant experiences at these establishments and we will continue to take our PA son there. Hope this helps.
On Jan 20, 2000
Don't forget we often get different answers depending on how we ask, what we ask, who we ask etc. Often we can get different answers by just calling back and talking to a different person!
One restaurant chain we checked out told us they thought they did not have any peanut products and from our first discussions all was going well (within the northern New England States we had checked with till that time). We recently checked with some of the same company's restaurants in the Virginia, USA area and found they did use peanut products. When a chain has independent restaurant owners they sometimes use different products, sometimes even if not independently owned they buy products from different suppliers.
When you hear from a restaurant that it considers itself safe, one of the things to be sure of is that you are talking to the person (or people) who would really know. Don't forget that people who are not really educated about this allergy often do not fully understand what you are asking or the seriousness of what you are asking. We hear too often that someone thought the person they were talking to understood because they acted like they did or said they did.
On Jan 21, 2000
Chris, Can you tell me which chain you are referring to in your post? I live in the Virginia area and would like to avoid this restaurant if it is one I happent to go to. Christine