It’s story time, fit & focused friends. Gather ‘round, lend an ear and allow me to tell you about that time a raw foodie tried to kill me. (Based on true events.)
It all started the morning of September 19th. I was in Chicago for my best friend’s bachelorette party. After a night out, we were all a bit slow to get up and get going, but a few of us started getting brunch together. There were eggs, sausage, yogurt and fruit, but since our bride-to-be is vegan, one of the girls also ordered some vegan food from a nearby café. She had ordered it days in advance and thought she’d just have to drive on over and pick it up.
She arrived there at the scheduled pick up time. Not only was the food not ready, they hadn’t even started making it! She sat at the café for an hour waiting for the order. They gave her a cupcake free of charge to apologize. Ok, bad service, but we’ll let it slide. She arrived back and we sat down to a yummy brunch.
Turns out, the maid of honor had made reservations at the same restaurant for dinner. We were a bit hesitant to go after the brunch debacle, but we decided to give the place another shot.
We arrived right on time for our reservation, and the restaurant wasn’t ready for us. The place wasn’t all that busy, but we had to wait for 20 minutes for them to set up a table. Looks like they don’t take orders or reservations very seriously.
Once we were seated, it took a while for our waitress to come take our order. I asked her if the gluten-free pizza had any corn or soy in it and alerted her to my food allergies. Her response?
Hmmm… I don’t know. I don’t actually work here, and I’m just doing the owner a favor, but I’ll go check.
She came back a few minutes later and said it was allergen-free, so I went ahead and ordered it.
About half an hour later, half of our table’s food arrived. The rest of us just sat there. Waiting. 20 more minutes and half our table was still foodless and getting hangry. Let me remind you, the restaurant was not overly busy.
The rest of our food finally arrived and I admit my pizza looked delicious. I took a few bites out of it and then realized that the stone was covered in what looked a lot like cornmeal. I waived the waiter over (we now had a different one than the girl that took our order) and asked if there was cornmeal on the pizza. I told him I was allergic. Here’s how the conversation went down:
Me: Excuse, me. Can you tell me if this is cornmeal? I told the other waitress I was allergic, but this looks a lot like cornmeal.
Waiter: No, it shouldn’t be.
Me: Ok… well… can you check?
A few minutes later, the waiter comes back.
Waiter: It’s definitely not cornmeal.
Me: Oh ok great. Can you tell me what it is? (I was actually curious since Will and I make pizza at home and I’ve been trying to find a good cornmeal substitute).
Waiter: Uh… I’m not sure, but it’s most definitely not cornmeal.
Me: You don’t know what it is?
Waiter: Let me go check again.
A few minutes later…
Waiter: I don’t know what it is, but I can guarantee you it’s not cornmeal.
Me: How can you guarantee it’s not cornmeal if you don’t know what it is.
Waiter: Well, the cook speaks Spanish and I don’t speak Spanish, so unless one of you speaks Spanish…
At this point the girls I was with and I were getting very ruffled, and a number of them chimed in.
Friend: Well… she’s allergic, so this shouldn’t be taken lightly. Can you please find out what it is.
Waiter: Do you want me to take this back to the cook and point it out to him?
Our whole table: YES!
A few minutes later, the waiter returns.
Waiter: Ok… so it is cornmeal.
Are you f&*#ing kidding me? At this point, I was beyond pissed. This guy was so confident that it wasn’t cornmeal but didn’t really check. This is a restaurant. A vegan and raw food restaurant. You’re base costumer has dietary restrictions. How are you not taking this seriously?
He asked me if I wanted to order something else. Uh… no! You can’t communicate food allergies to your chef – no I don’t want something else. Our whole table was pissed off, and I was happy to have some girls with me that had my back.
A moment later, the owner of the restaurant came over to our table to “apologize.” She is a 68-year old woman who is apparently very well known in the vegan/raw/holistic health scene. Her apology went something like this:
I’m so sorry! We just combined our vegan restaurant with our raw food restaurant, so things aren’t really up and running yet. Of course, we’ll comp your meal and give you free dessert.
She should have stopped there, and I could have gotten over it, but she didn’t…
Can I give you something to help with the reaction? I have these great dietary enzymes and I promise you, if you take them you won’t have a reaction. Let me get them for you.
She goes to get her specially branded enzymes.
Just take a few of these, and take more in an hour. If you take them for three months all of your food allergies will be gone. I swear! Just last week, a guy came in here and he told me he was allergic to gluten and cashews, but I didn’t hear the cashews part and I gave him a cake with a cashew frosting. He ate it, but I gave him these enzymes and he was fine.
Whoa. Whoa. Hold the phone. First of all, you’re telling me you have the cure for food allergies?! Why are you working at a dysfunctional café? You should be a bazillionaire in the medical industry. Second, you admit that you regularly poison people with food they are allergic to? You run a restaurant, lady!
But wait… there’s more…
“Just look at me,” she said, “I’m 68. I look great, I have a bikini body (points to her abs – seriously, not joking – this happened). People fly from all over the world to come to my restaurant and seek my advice. Beyonce and Stevie Wonder come to me. Here’s my card. If you want to learn more about any of my programs, give me a call. In the meantime, let me get you all some dessert.”
What. The. Hell? Here I am, crying and pissed off that I was served food I was allergic to, and she’s trying to tell me how awesome she is and sell me her services? Lady, because of you, my stomach is going to be raging the rest of the weekend. No, I don’t want your voodoo pills or your celebrity services, and I certainly don’t want to see your abs. Call me when you cure Stevie Wonder’s blindness.
We all left the restaurant disgusted. The only thing she did correctly was not charge us for the meal. Had she just apologized and done that, we may have left just a bit tiffed, but her sales soliloquy left us beyond annoyed. Luckily, after dinner, we went to Howl at the Moon, which certainly helped lighten our moods and make the night fun again.
The next day, my stomach was bugging me a bit, but I was thankful I didn’t trust the incompetent waiter and eat the rest of the pizza. I threw Madam Voodoo’s card in the trash, but I will have to run to my allergist and tell him about the magic enzymes that cure food allergies. I’m sure he’d be interested to learn about them.
NOTE: I purposefully left out naming names in this post. If you would like to know specifically who/what I’m talking about, I’d be happy to shoot you a note, but rest assured a bad review went up on Yelp.
Have you ever dealt with stupid bad service?
Would you like some voodoo pills? I have a full bottle…