Feature Article - October 2007
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Food For Thought

Simple Menu Changes for Special Diets

By Stacy St. Clair

Just do it

If your concessions make the effort to provide options for special dietary needs, it's important to take the time to educate employees about the menu. For example, teach them the difference between a vegetarian item and a vegan one. Make sure they know a bunless hot dog should be a fresh wiener taken off the rollers and not plucked from a bun and handled to a gluten-averse customer.

"It helps when the staff is educated," Jennings said. "We have the problem at many concessions that when we ask if something is gluten-free, the person working says 'yes' because it's not listed in the ingredients. Well, gluten is never going to be listed in the ingredients."

Accommodating concession stands also should publicize their diet-friendly menu options and nutritional information on their Web sites whenever possible. National restaurant chains now do this as a way of drawing customers and sparking an interest in their menus. The trend has proven extremely successful, proving to customers that they can grab a bite outside their own kitchens and still meet their dietary needs.

It's also helpful to have menus on-site with all the myriad fat-free, kosher, gluten-free, low-carb and vegetarian options clearly marked. This will help patrons unfamiliar with your selections figure out which items will work best for them.

"The concession stands just need to provide the information, " Schluckebier said. "We will be responsible for the diet."