I don’t trust gluten-free menus at chain restaurants that serve non-GF food. It’s a suspicion that may be unfounded, considering that, until now, I’ve had no previous instances of being served gluten-contaminated food. Most restaurants still don’t have a gluten-free menu, and I’ve learned which dishes are generally safe, and those that might possibly contain trace amounts of gluten. If I eat out I do my best to stay away from anything even remotely suspect and make sure to carry my little bottle of GF soy sauce in my purse when we go to sushi. Because that’s how I roll. (Get it? ROLL? SUSHI? ha. HA. haha.)
It usually works out fine, although, now that I’ve not had gluten in my diet for a long period of time, my sensitivity is heightened so even the small amount of cross-contamination caused by eating french fries made in a fryer that also cooks breaded food disrupts my system. Cue tiny violins. Mostly, I just cook for myself at home because I have control over every single thing that goes into my food and I like not having to worry about it. Still, a dinner out is nice sometimes, and it would be awesome to walk into a restaurant and know I could order anything and wouldn’t have to worry about being dreadfully ill for a week afterward.
Last weekend, Tytron and I took a gift certificate we’d gotten and went to dinner at PF Chang’s. I was pleased and surprised that they offered a whole gluten-free menu. Our waiter, who was trying to be awesome, brought me a free side of Asian cucumbers (cucumbers lightly cooked with soy sauce and sesame seeds) to go with an entree I’d ordered that was very spicy. I didn’t think to ask whether or not those cukes were swimming in GF soy sauce, and I ate them up with gusto, much to my later dismay.
After a weekend of gluten-related respiratory issues, puffiness, sleeplessness, mental fogginess, nausea, and severe intestinal…ah, discomfort, I hopped right onto the intarwebs and wrote those folks a stern letter letting them know they’d poisoned me. It was a respectful note, but stated in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t looking for meal comps or anything like that, as I’d no desire to get sick again. I told them the service was excellent but the end result was a majorly epic food fail that resulted in me being sick for the weekend (I really still haven’t fully recovered, to tell the truth).
Two days after I sent the email, the location manager contacted me by phone and left a message of apology, along with his office and cell phone number.
I thought it was nice of him. I was impressed by the intensity of his apology. He genuinely sounded bummed out by the whole affair. I didn’t call back.
He persisted in trying to contact me until I answered this morning, at which time we had a nice conversation about what I suspected had happened with the cucumbers. I also said I wasn’t interested in getting anything free, but thanked him for calling. He told me he wanted to mail me something, so I gave him my address.
A few minutes ago, the dude shows up at my door with two $50 gift certificates for PF Changs, $50 in movie gift certs, four car wash and detail comps from a local wash-n-lube, a ridiculously sincere apology for making me sick, and an offer for us to come to the restaurant and personally watch him prepare our meal. He let me know he’d pulled our kitchen ticket and confirmed my suspicion about the cukes (and he knew the entire rest of our order by heart), then talked to the waiter who served us about where he went wrong.
That has to be the best goddamned customer service I have ever received from any business, anywhere.
PF Chang’s gets a second chance, and my faith in humanity gets a boost for being treated so nicely by a stranger who doesn’t have to give two shits what I think of his restaurant. I’m totally stunned and impressed by this level of service from a chain, so much so that I desperately hope our second visit goes well so we can recommend this place to anyone who will listen. That’s how you run a business, people.
PF Chang’s customer service, at least, is a huge WIN.