Hi everyone -
As promised yesterday today I wanted to fill you in on my Pizza Hut experience over the weekend.
Being a big food chain like Pizza Hut is these kind of big corporate companies are reluctant to make changes when they make so much money and their suppliers which support or consistent of substances you are unable to eat due to your allergies are big business to them.
That is why I often find the best meals I enjoy out are by restaurants and cafes that are privately owned or have a smaller chain size. They are more likely to adapt their menus for you, have the time to rustle you up an alternative and be more on the ball with laws and regulations surrounding allergies in general. As bigger chains they are all about getting the food out as fast as possible, feeding as many customers as they can handle and ultimately making the most money they can make. This means that a lot of their foods are pre-made, pre-packed, they are loyal to their suppliers and they won't / can't adapt the menu around you and your needs - what is on the menu is what they have to offer end of!
I believe this is ultimately why I suffered and struggled so badly in America. Huge corporate, fast food businesses are what they live by over there. You rarely came across an independently run restaurant. Infact every restaurant except our first night in Chicago was a corporate chain eatery. Quattro's in Chicago was run by an Italian family and the food was AMAZING and you knew it would be as it was jam packed and packed with Italians! ALWAYS A GOOD SIGN! Despite being overrun already they were willing to basically make me ANYTHING - I have never had service like it. They picked my favourite veggies from dishes and created me a beautiful salad and took the time to bake more chips with no oil to ensure I was ok. They never made me feel uncomfortable about my intolerances and my allergies, the chef and manager worked up a decent sized meal with me and continued throughout the meal to check that all was ok. I was so warmed and impressed ( this probably gave me false hope for the whole trip ). From then on it was big corporate chains throughout our journey - Bubba's, Rainforest Cafe, Subway, Vegan Thai, Dick's Last Resort, Hooters the list goes on, you will see in my book and of course ( we didn't eat there ) but being on the road especially every 10 minutes at EVERY freeway junction just off it would be a McDonalds!
They were also very unwilling to take cheese or any dairy out of your dish to cater for dairy allergies because the dairy industry is SO big out there and these massive chains make millions from doing business with the dairy industry, same with meat - so why will they cater and change their menu for as they see it 'a small minority' losing them money, their suppliers and supplier money and potentially damaging their business. I think that may be why they can come across rude and make you feel uncomfortable when you ask about allergies or adapting the menu, they are living the life and have been a massive success selling the products they do so why should they 'adapt' - who are you to come in and expect them to change.
I also found this on my travels in Croatia, Slovenia and Venice, I would always ask for no oil yet they would still put oil in my dishes or bring me oil to pour over my food despite telling them I couldn't eat it. Because oil is such a big part of their 'mediterranean' diet like cheese, fried food and meat is in America and the restaurant companies make so much money from using these products that they simply put them on and in EVERYTHING and they don't understand why you wouldn't want these products on your food or why you can't eat them. Again due to customer demands and always being in tourist places throughout my travels all the foods in restaurants were pre-packed or pre-made, leaving no room for adapting around suffers, they simply just want to make quick turn arounds and the most money possible. Luckily like in Chicago we came across (again a family run small restaurant) called Orkra in Slovenia who catered to me so well, and I managed to order and receive exactly what I wanted and had ordered with no issues, embarrassment or them simply not understanding/ being ignorant towards you and your allergies and still serving you the dish with cheese, oil or whatever on!
What they fail to realise is that food intolerances and allergies is a growing problem among society and restaurants really need to get on board with this! As they may not be losing custom now but in time if:
A. More people are suffering from allergies and can no longer consume their foods.
B. Friends and family too will ultimately not in there because they can't eat with their loved one and they too won't like the embarrassment the company causes at their meal out by making things difficult and not catering to their needs.
Luckily I think Pizza Hut has realised this.
I don't mean to put Pizza Hut down because my Mama will back me up here - I LOVE PIZZA HUT, it was always may go to restaurant back in my childhood and youth. Every swimming competition during our stays in the different cities we were lucky to compete at there would always be a Pizza Hut visit. I just used to love loading up my plate from the salad bar and enjoying a massive deep pan pizza ( yes BREAD is well was my ultimate weakness).
However in the last few years they have begun to struggle, their restaurants were always quieter and they were forced to increase the prices on their menus. Even just a few years back attempting to re-branding themselves as 'PASTA HUT' as they thought that would appeal to a wider audience. As they were now competing with new rivals in the 'fast food restaurant market' from Nando's and pizza chains themselves like Zizzi's and Prezzo.
However, I know it's horrible to go through hard times and financially they were obviously becoming challenged. However this has made them educate themselves and I always say knowledge is power! They are adapting to the food issues and food allergies affecting our society and are now benefiting from those changes.
Matthew and I chose Pizza Hut so I could at least raid the salad bar, have some chips and some corn chips and it would be 'easy' there would be no faffing about with waiters, or causing a fuss. When we sat down though I was first impressed with the fact they now have MANGO SORBET!! So if you are dairy intolerant or vegan you can still have a dessert! They have also made ALL their desserts suitable for vegetarians, of course none are vegan as cookie dough, ice cream factory and banoffee pie etc are practically all dairy and not much else! But there is now and option! Which is FABBBB! As I love a dessert. I then opened up the menu to find one the bottom Pizza Hut had stated that they could make ALL and ANY types of their pizza bases gluten and dairy free - which:
A. Is AMAZING they can cater for gluten, dairy intolerances and for vegans.
B. It shows they are prepared to cater to you - no fuss or issues created, you just tell them the base when you order.
C. It shows they are making the bases fresh for you.
I thought this was amazing, for a big company like pizza hut is. They had really put a lot of effort and thought into their new menu and to make ALL of their pizza bases adaptable to gluten and dairy intolerances is brill as they are the bulk of their menu and their most popular type of dish option.
Of course even without the cheese the price of your pizza is the same!! It isn't right like in America that you get charged the same or MORE for taking items off or having a gluten free option but I have to give it to Pizza Hut they are doing the best they can right now and there is always room for improvement if they make money off offering these dishes and more and more people come in and order them, the price can come down. I understand that.
Of course at this point ( me being the bread lover I am ) was a little excited and prayed that MAYBE they may have a wheat free option or be able to use rice flour in a base. I asked the waiter and she was lovely about it, she asked the chef and presented me with the page of ingredients for all their pizza bases and showed me that they did use wheat flour in all their dishes. So I thanked her and ordered my fries, along with my salad.
It was only 4.45pm by this time and I asked her if she had people choosing the gluten & vegan option regularly and I know it was a Saturday but she said she had served a few in that day. So that will give them peace of mind that their service is being used, appreciated and it is what is needed within the restaurant industry and I really hope it does make them a lot of money because they have been brave enough to branch away from the norm and enter this niche but ever growing market. With the dairy industry playing a big part in their menu with their pizzas, pastas, cheesy garlic breads etc it is nice to know that they are willing to move away from them a little bit which could have caused them to lose some money.
So thank you Pizza Hut - you have set the bar now for other bigger food chain restaurants to put money aside for the moment and think about their customers and their needs.
I wish you all the success in the new direction you are going down, and thank you for adapting!
I will round this blog post up now I didn't want it to be too long but I think it's a important topic and a BIG break through. For the vegans and people with gluten and dairy intolerances I encourage you to try Pizza Hut and let me know how you get on!! Of course you aren't all from the UK, so I don't whether other Pizza Hut outlets in over countries have also made these changes but it will be interesting to get your thoughts and feedback on this.
I am currently in talks with Allergy UK about working with them to raise more awareness within the restaurant industry because it is SO important.
Thank you for reading as always - check out my YOUTUBE channel, follow me on Insta: sophiewardy , Snapchat & Twitter: sophwardy and never hesitate to reach out.
Tell me your restaurant experiences!!!
LOVE AND PEACE XO.