Tips for Restaurant Managers who want to attract more paleo (and other special needs) diners:
- List your options on the menu and make sure staff understand them. This includes “small” details like being able to order a sandwich “naked”, or lettuce-wrapped instead of on a bun.
- Have plain olive oil and/or lemon wedges available as an alternative to salad dressings, and/or a simple vinaigrette made with olive oil.
- Offer one true paleo option that isn’t a salad, and include “paleo”, “primal”, or “cave man” in the title so it will jump out at those who care. (“Paleo Plate”, “Primal Dinner”, “Cave Man Special”.) It should be a simple meat dish (ideally grass-fed/free range) with an extra-large portion of non-starchy vegetable/s (ideally organic.) No potato, bread, pasta, beans or peanuts. Sauces (if any) should be clearly identified as free of any dairy (butter, cream, milk, cheese, etc.), refined sugar, grains (flour, cornstarch, etc.) or anything artificial like MSG. Use (and identify) only olive or coconut oils in this dish. We understand it may cost a little more.
- Grilled portobello mushrooms make an awesome bun alternative!
- Understand that true paleo also works for some people avoiding gluten due to Celiac disease or other sensitivities, following low-carb diets (Atkins, etc.), managing peanut and soy allergies or lactose intolerance, and various other special needs. However, it is important to note that certain individuals’ needs will not be met by any less than meticulous adherence to protocols you may be unprepared to ensure. Be sure you don’t make promises you can’t guarantee. (“Gluten free” for example, is a very strong statement involving legal standards often misunderstood.) On the other hand, one or two thoughtful paleo options, properly labeled and fully understood by staff, will really make your restaurant stand out to a large, fast-growing, and largely frustrated population.
- To really understand our needs and the reasons behind them, read one good introductory book, such as The Paleo Solution
or The Paleo Answer.
- Also, be sure to check out my book: Paleo for Restaurants.