You Learn Something New Every Day!

When we decided to start making belgian waffles for our guests, we also decided to offer a gluten-free option for those who have wheat allergies. Usually, the people with these allergies either call ahead to let us know or put a note in their reservation when they reserve online. Yesterday, we got a phone call from one of these guests. It kind of went like this:

Me: Hello, Meadowlark Inn.
Guest: Hi, I saw on your website that you serve a gluten free breakfast.
Me: Well, we do serve gluten-free waffles.
Guest: How do you prepare them?
Me: (long explanation of exactly what goes in them)
Guest: Where do you prepare them?
Me: In our kitchen.
Guest: Is it the same kitchen that prepares the non gluten-free foods?
Me: Yes.
Guest: Then you really aren't gluten-free and shouldn't be saying that you serve a gluten-free waffle.
Me: But I don't cross contaminate. I have a separate bowl, spoon, separate waffle iron. I thought I was doing everything right.
Guest: When you prepare foods, the gluten is airborne and contaminates the other foods.
Me: So what you are saying is that when people prepare gluten-free foods you would need a separate kitchen to say you are actually gluten free??
Guest: Yes.
Me: Well, I have a hard time believing that all gluten-free preparations are done in a separate kitchen. How long is the gluten airborne?
Guest: 48 hours.
(a lot more back and forth of me being told how to properly prepare a gluten-free meal!)
Me: We actually do have two kitchens, one in our apartment and one outside our inn dining room. So, if I do all the preparation of non gluten-free foods for 48 hours before you come in in only our apartment kitchen, then the inn kitchen would be pure enough to make the gluten free waffles when you come. Right?
Guest: Yes. But would you mind if I called you in a couple days before I come to remind you of all of this?
Me: Of course. Now, do you already have a reservation with us so that I can put it in your notes?
Guest: Oh no, we aren't staying with you. We are staying somewhere else and just want to come eat at your place because our place doesn't serve gluten free!

WHAT????????? Omg, I just can't make this stuff up. I then went on to tell her that we are not a cafe or restaurant and we only serve a complimentary breakfast to the people that are actually staying here. She seemed disappointed and then asked if we had any openings for the night that she wanted in case she could cancel her other reservation (we didn't).

The more we add or the different things that we do here, there always seems that there is always something more to learn. At first, when I got this phone call, the caller seemed very argumentative, so I almost thought I was being "punked". I quickly realized that she was serious and I thought, "Ok, there is always more to learn, and I do want to do everything right so...". But when I heard she was staying somewhere else, it took everything for me to keep my "WTF!!!" bottled up! And although I learned more about how to keep from cross contaminating gluten foods, this is what I learn every day.... Be nice, be kind, be considerate to all of our guests, even the ones that aren't staying here!
10 Responses
  1. Jean Says:

    Tina Dear,

    I don't know how you don't lose your temper -- you are soooo good and patient. If it were my inn I would say "no waffles for you" and "no inn for you"

  2. You're funny Jean! I have to admit, I was secretly happy when I saw that we were booked the night she wanted! She stressed me out tooo much!

  3. Susie Cassano Says:

    Susie Cassano - 7/29/10

    Tina, that is such a funny story! I can't wait to tell Donnie to read it. When we come to the Inn in November, I would like a waffle, please. The thing is that I am allergic to cats, so please don't have any in the kitchen area while making my waffle - their dander stays in the air for 48 hours! Miss you!

  4. You're lucky Susie, we have no cats! Wait, did you think Sammy and Maggie were cats?? Miss you guys! Can't wait to see you in November!

  5. judith Says:

    I love your blog, Tina - you are a riot - I would have wanted to go through that phone and choke her! If it was me, I would have told her the inn was full even if it wasn't, until at least hell freezes over! Can't wait to come back in October!!

  6. Hi Judi, You're funny! Running the inn for the past 6 years really tests our patience. It does take a lot for me to tell someone "until hell freezes over," but I did do it once several years ago, but not exactly in those words :). Looking forward to seeing you in October.

  7. Valarie Says:

    Holy cow. I've been put on a 90-day GF diet to rule out some things, and if what you were told is true, I couldn't even eat in my own house if this is the case. How can one prepare for other family members that aren't on GF? I was never told this. It's not in my GF books. My GF friends have never mentioned this. It sounds like a Vegan that won't eat honey. I so hope that Gluten isn't the problem, because I do feel like a royal pita at restaurants. But I agree...shower them with kindness...if you pour fuel on the fire...it only gets worst!

  8. Oh, Valarie, that really sucks! I hope it's not a gluten problem. That just seems like such a tough diet to be on forever! We have had several people here that were gluten free and none of them ever said this to me. Maybe she was an extreme case, who knows. Good luck, I hope it turns out to be something easily healed for you. Come visit us, I'll make you a waffle :)!

  9. Joanie Says:

    OMG that was hysterical. You do get them. Can't wait to see you guys and try the gluten free waffles. :)

  10. Lynda Minneci Says:

    OMG...tell them next time you'll prepare their meal with your HAZ MAT SUIT on! but NOTHING surprises me. I work part time at an MRI place...you can only imagine the requests and questions..."kill them with kindness" my mom always said and now i have my daughter saying the same at her job! BTW...how do you prepare for Dairy Free? I hope it's outside, or I cant come!!LOL