How to Satisfy Your Gluten- Free Customer

Adding gluten-free options or creating a gluten-free menu is an opportunity for chefs to think outside the box and get creative. Even without the most popular grains (wheat, barley, and rye) there are still many grains to cook with such as rice, corn, millet, sorghum, buckwheat, and quinoa.  There are also alternatives for flour products. Alternatives include rice flour, cornmeal, and almond flour. The gluten-free movement has even pushed many manufacturers to develop gluten free mixes like pizza dough.

Call your suppliers and make a list of the gluten-free products that they offer. Then have your chef(s) pull together ideas on new menu items to satisfy your gluten-free customer – chicken tenders breaded in rice flour and cooked in a gluten-free fryer is a great start. Don’t forget to include alternatives to dressings!  Take advantage of naturally gluten-free products and pair them as side items. These include vegetables, fruit, and nuts.

Once you have conquered the new menu items, don’t forget the most important part – letting your customers know! Add a gluten-free icon next to the products on your menu or create an entirely separate menu if you have enough products. Make sure your staff asks the table if there are any food allergies so they can point out the right products or offer the separate menu.

Don’t leave your gluten-free customers in the dark. Satisfying their needs could help you gain a loyal, gluten-free customer base that comes to you frequently for a delicious night out.

Top 10 things your staff should not do

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to putting together a team that delivers exceptional customer service. As the owner/manager you can train your staff and set clear expectations on what they should and should not do to be the best restaurant staff around town. Here is a list of our top 10 things your staff should not do.

1)      Do not let a guest be seated before realizing the table is not level. Check for unbalanced tables while setting the dinnerware/flatware.

2)      Do not interrupt table conversations, even if it’s time to announce the specials of the day. Standby for a break in conversation or pause at the table for them to acknowledge you.

3)      Do not touch the rim of the glasses – even if it’s most convenient. Always hold from the bottom or stem.

4)      Do not remove plates from the table until everyone at that table is finished eating. This will make the eaters who have not finished feel rushed.

5)      Do not give customers a glass or plate without inspecting them for cleanliness first. This could save your servers from a tip reduction.

6)      Do not remove a full plate of food without inquiring if something was wrong. Feedback is always good to learn from.

7)      Do not talk with coworkers about personal matters or gossip where customers can hear you. Personal conversations should happen during breaks, in a breakroom.

8)      Do not say “I don’t know.” Replace that with “I will find out.” This will show that you are attentive and eager to supply any information that is requested by a customer.

9)      Do not set down a hot plate without warning the customer first. A warning will be much appreciated by the hungry customer ready to eat.

10)   Do not stop giving service after a check is paid. Let the service continue because you want the guests to come back.

If a team member does something that you do not approve of, kindly explain how they can improve their service and how that can benefit the customers’ experience, ultimately improving their tip. When you see an employee providing exceptional service, shine the spotlight on them in your next staff meeting. Let me know how much you appreciate the great service and how the rest of the team can learn from that great service.

What is NSF Certified?

You may have seen the NSF certification stamp on foodservice equipment and supplies you’re looking to purchase, what is NSF certification? The mark is provided by NSF International, a public health and safety organization whose mission is to protect and improve global human health. They do this by developing public health standards and certifications that assist in protecting food and consumer products. So if you see the NSF mark that means the product has been tested and it complies with all standard requirements.

According to, the mark also provides:

-          Unbiased review against established guidelines has been conducted

-          Product labeling and claims that have been accurately reviewed by a trusted third party

-          Competitive differentiation

-          Assurance that the product/brand is committed to quality, compliance, and safety

You are not required to purchase NSF certified products but it highly recommended for compliance with health code and to meet franchise requirements. NSF standards meet or exceed federal, state, and local health code which means that NSF products in your kitchen will meet the health department requirements – that’s a huge relief for you!

If you are a part of a chain or franchise then you are familiar with additional standards you have to meet. A lot of chains actually require that equipment be NSF certified. This will help ensure that the food being served is safe for the customers.

Easily cleanable and accurately functioning equipment is vital for a food service operation. NSF provides a complete list of standards here.