“Excuse me, do you have any gluten free options?” “Is this salad dressing vegan friendly?” There once was a time where servers and chefs would snicker in private kitchen corners when they heard questions like these. That was then. Now there are an estimated 7.3 million adults following some form of vegetarian diet and 3.1 million Americans adhering to a gluten-free diet. This is the time for restaurants to embrace specific and alternative diets to shine above the competition.
As more and more Americans are turning to gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan, ketogenic, and low carb diets, restaurants are often asking themselves how to respond. Should a chef stick to his or her time tested classic menu and let guests worry about their own dietary restrictions, or should they use a little knowledge and creativity to stand above the competition and welcome these specific eaters with open arms. Successful restaurants around the country are realizing that these dieters are not one offs but are often part of larger communities and pass recommendations on to their like-minded eaters.