Last summer, in our July/August 2016 issue, we delved into allergy-friendly best practices with our case study cover story of Great Wolf Resorts. For part of that feature, I interviewed Paul Antico, founder of AllergyEats, a guide to allergy-friendly restaurants in the United States, determining which restaurants to recommend based on ratings and feedback from the food allergy community. Antico observed, “The gold standard for kids with food allergies has always been Disney World. People will pay for an entire trip just so the children can have their first meal out.”
AllergyEats just released its 2017 list of the Top 10 Most Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Chains nationwide. The chains on this list hold the highest ratings on the AllergyEats app and website, per feedback from the food allergy community. AllergyEats restaurant ratings are based solely on how well restaurants have accommodated food-allergic diners, and not on other factors, such as ambiance, service, or food quality.
The winners are grouped into two categories: large (50 or more restaurants) and small (under 50 restaurants). Results were based on diner feedback from the AllergyEats app and website through December 31, 2016. Ratings are based on a 1 through 5 scale, with 5 being the most allergy-friendly.
Most notable to hoteliers should be the fact that, except in instances where these chains have venues within hotels, hotels are NOT leading the charge in allergy-sensitive offerings. This presents a HUGE opportunity to add well-done offerings in this arena, especially if your hotel wants to attract families. So, pay attention to what these chains are doing and learn from them.
The AllergyEats most allergy-friendly large chains:
- Maggiano’s Little Italy (4.80 rating)
- Chipotle Mexican Grill (4.36 rating)
- Mellow Mushroom (4.33 rating)
- In-N-Out Burger (4.28 rating)
- Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (4.20 rating)
The most allergy-friendly small chains:
- Burtons Grill (4.80 rating)
- Legal Sea Foods (4.70 rating)
- Flatbread Company (4.68 rating)
- Rainforest Cafe (4.67 rating)
- Not Your Average Joe’s (4.56 rating)
Some of the restaurant chains on the 2017 list, including Maggiano’s Little Italy, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Burtons Grill, and Not Your Average Joe’s, have earned placement on the AllergyEats Top 10 Chains List consistently for several years. New to the list this year are both Flatbread Company and In-N-Out Burger, the first fast-food chain to earn a place in the Top 10.
“The AllergyEats Top 10 Most Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Chains list and the growing number of AllergyEats ratings of all restaurants around the country help the food allergy community make more informed decisions about which restaurants to visit and which to avoid, based on how well or poorly they’ve accommodated other diners’ food allergies,” Antico says.