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Outback Responds!

Mary had a problem at Outback which she shared with me in an e-mail. She writes:

Yesterday, I flew to Salt Lake to visit my daughter and her husband and went to Outback Steakhouse for dinner. I Asked for and received a gluten-free menu and ordered a Steakhouse Salad and specifically requested no "Aussie Krunchies" on the salad.

My salad came and I was almost finished when I noticed at the bottom of the plate something I thought were probably "Aussie Krunchies". I asked the waiter and he took the plate back to the chef. The waiter came back with a manager and they confirmed the salad had not been made gluten-free.

All the manager said was - Hope you don't get sick. They didn't even offer to comp the salad off the ticket. I was not happy with them at all.

But bottom line - what do I do now? Is there anything I can do to balance out eating the gluten? I'm planning on eating correctly and going on with my life - but I was shocked by their attitude and lack of interest. What should I do different in the future?

By simply going to www.outback.com, I went to the comment section, copied her e-mail, and sent my own note. I thought Outback ought to know about this.

I wanted to share with you an email I received from one of my patients below. I am celiac as are a lot more people that the medical profession would like to believe. I truly commend you for your efforts on having a gluten-free menu. The problem is, your managers at your restaurants just don't "get" how important it is to follow it, that a tiny bit of gluten really is an issue. One of the leaders of our support group here in Lufkin spent over an hour with the manager at the Lufkin store teaching him about celiac. At first, his comment was, "just a little bit is OK, right?" A little bit is NOT OK. If you have a gluten-free menu, then there should be some education to the people using it.

Thanks for your restaurants!

Rima Kittley, MD, FAAFP

Outback responded right away. Within an hour or two of sending the e-mail, the owner of the Utah store called Mary to personally apologize. He offered to personally make her a dinner on the house if she would just come back. He set up a celiac training session for his store, so that it doesn't happen again.

So Mary asks: What should I do different in the future? TELL SOMEONE who can do something about it, constructively, politely. They can't fix it if they don't know about it. You may or may not get as nice and prompt a response as we did from Outback. But do spread the word. The more regular people know about Celiac, the less we will feel like Outcasts in the Outback.

It is a big deal to be able to safely go out to eat, something quite a chore for us Celiacs. Outback is really trying to do it right. Now what I wish is that they had more gluten-free menu items that were also dairy-free for me to eat....sigh.....
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