Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Bonefish Grill, and Burtons Grill lead restaurant chains in accommodating food-allergic diners, according to Allergy Eats’ 2014 list of Most Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Chains in the U.S.
New to the list this year, which launched in 2013, are Romano's Macaroni Grill and Mellow Mushroom. "Statistics have shown that maintaining a more allergy-friendly restaurant leads to increased traffic, customer loyalty, and, ultimately, profits,” says Paul Antico, founder and CEO of AllergyEats.
According to Antico, restaurants that are allergy-friendly can boost their annual profits by 24 percent or more, as more than 10 percent of Americans have a food allergy or intolerance. Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) reports up to 15 million Americans have food allergies—12 million with food allergies and 3 million with celiac disease. Millions more have dietary concerns, such as lactose intolerance and diabetes.
Food-allergic individuals, notes Antico, often have the “veto vote” in a dining party, ultimately making the restaurant decision for the entire group.
The report groups chains into three categories: large (over 200 units), medium (50-200 units), and small (under 50 units). Results are based on diner feedback, who rate restaurants on a scale of 1-5, and post their info to the AllergyEats website or app. For this particular list, the ratings are based solely on how well restaurants have accommodated food-allergic diners, and don’t take into account the restaurants' ambiance, service, or food quality.
Large (over 200 units):
- Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (4.45 rating)
- P.F. Chang’s China Bistro (4.43 rating)
- Chipotle Mexican Grill (4.41 rating)
- Outback Steakhouse (4.35 rating)
- Romano’s Macaroni Grill (4.20 rating)
Medium (50-200 units):
- Bonefish Grill (4.43 rating)
- Ninety Nine Restaurant (4.28 rating)
- Mellow Mushroom (4.26 rating)
- Uno Chicago Grill (4.24 rating)
- Bertucci’s Brick Oven Restaurant (4.17 rating)
Small (under 50 units):
- Burtons Grill (4.90 rating)
- Maggiano’s Little Italy (4.73 rating)
- Papa Razzi (4.68 rating)
- Legal Sea Foods (4.67 rating)
- Not Your Average Joe’s (4.66 rating)
The primary goal of AllergyEats is to connect food allergic individuals with restaurants that are deemed allergy-friendly by fellow food allergic peers, says Antico. AllergyEats.com lists more than 650,000 restaurants nationwide, and offers web links, menus (including gluten-free), allergen lists, certifications, nutritional info, phone numbers, as well as other relevant information from restaurants.