Adventures in Gluten (and Sugar) Freedom from a southern blogger chick!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Tale of Two Cities (It's Sunday, I'm blessed, but this was no blessing)

OK. That's it. It's official. I am never setting foot in the North Dale Mabry Outback near our house in Tampa ever again.

And I'm sending this post to the central office here in Tampa.

Outback, your Dale Mabry Road's treatment of the gluten free menu is abysmal. Shameful.

Especially not after going to the Roswell Outback with the gluten-free menu of heaven. You should be ashamed of yourselves!

Here's what happened today. We were going to go to Mimi's Cafe,but the wait was long, so we went next door to Outback.

As usual, I asked for the GF menu (and a manager) immediately, and I also asked for a server familiar with the menu. Last time, we had a clueless wonder.

We were seated and I had no menu. The server came by in about 5 minutes and asked if we wanted an appetizer. I said I don't know, I want a menu first. A few minutes later, the manager came over with a menu and said, "OK, this really correlates with the regular menu, but here's more or less what you have available to order."

The operative word here, folks, was LESS.

Server comes up and I order a Spinach Codd Salad off the GF menu EXCEPT that is no longer on the menu AT ALL. She literally SNATCHES the menu from my hands and says, "You'll just have to order off the regular menu. I'll be sure to tell the chef to make it gluten free."

Oh really? My trust level at this moment, not so high. And the new menu has more fried items than even.

Five minutes later I order prime rib, a baked potato with butter only, and steamed veggies....And I dream of the beautiful people at Roswell Outback and the GF Bloomin' Onion, even a Kinnickinick bun for my hamburger!

But not here. Not at the second resutaurant in the chain in the home city of the franchise. NO no no. Nada.

Randy said he's tired of it, and I am too. How is it a chain, based in Tampa, can't even get an updated GF menu to its second store in the chain seven miles away? And it is obvious from the success of the Roswell store that having an extended GF menu -- even if it's only at ONE store in a big city like Tampa -- is a boon to business. When I saw Jared the manager from Roswell at the GF Vendor Fair a few weeks ago, he said his store's numbers are way up in an economy that is shrinking. That's because we members of the GF Community patronize those who take good care of us. One store in Tampa would have the patronage of a huge GF South Florida community if it would simply TAKE IT SERIOUSLY and treat us with respect. Which, like Rodney Dangerfield, I got none of today.

But no. And I left disappointed once again.

SO here's the deal, Outback. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I WILL not patronize your store again until you figure out that 1) the need for a real GF menu is serious and 2) the need to update that menu once in a while is essential. In fact, I will not patronize ANY of your stores unless they can serve me a hot GF Bloomin' Onion, like my friends in Roswell can.

Nope. No more.

Much love, especially to my friends at Roswell Outback who DO get it!


Karen said...

I am so tired of people who think I am only on a fad diet when I ask for gluten free. They should have to spend days in the bathroom poping their guts out, days with a migraine headache, days with joints that ache beyond belief just because some clueless wonder thought I meant I don't WANT to eat wheat. Not that I CAN'T eat wheat.

Crockpot Lady said...

this is really interesting---we haven't been eating out, so I'm out of the loop about Outback. I'm interested to see how the ones here fare. The idea of a GF bloomin' onion is tantalizing...

I'm so sorry you had a bad experience, and I'm happy to read up thread that they are trying to rectify the situation.