Features June 2020

Dining Out with Restaurants New Regulations

There are so many uncertainties as restaurants and many other businesses are reopening their doors with new and different regulations in place. Reentering the world can be filled with trepidation around COVID-19, but even more so when you have food allergies to handle as well. CertiStar helps restaurants and their customers feel more comfortable with coming back to dining out, particularly when there is a food allergy or intolerance in the group.

Many people don’t realize how widespread the issue is, but 10.4% of Americans are affected by food allergies, which is more than 32 million people in the US. During normal times it can feel intimidating and frustrating to dine out with food allergies. Often times the guest is offered a few options to choose from but very rarely a significant portion of the menu. The conversation can also feel a bit burdensome, given the time it takes and the number of staff members that can get involved. Worse, many people with food allergies try to order on their own, without bringing it to the attention of the restaurant putting themselves at significant risk to avoid the discussion.

With social distancing protocols in place and additional emphasis on take out and delivery, CertiStar allows restaurants to ensure the best possible service to all of their guests. Since the food allergy conversation can be rather time consuming, it’s to everyone’s benefit to make it more efficient as well as more accurate. Customers can feel like there is more information available to them through the restaurant as well as through the restaurant’s website. They can also feel more comfortable that the information is accurate and complete. Before the pandemic hit, 25% of food allergic people didn’t go out to eat at all. It’s suspected that number is much higher now with the emphasis on take-out and delivery, which is unfortunate for both the guests missing out on the dining out experience and for the restaurants missing out on the additional revenue.

CertiStar provides stoplight style, individualized menus for any combination of any food allergens. The customer puts in the allergies, whatever they may be, and CertiStar returns the menu in sections – green is for allergen friendly, yellow offers modifications to dishes to make them allergen friendly and red is unsafe. The software provides several benefits. The guest can see everything on the menu that is a possibility for them and usually options within all different sections of the menu, like appetizers, entrees, cocktails, and desserts. With this information available on the websites, guests can figure out what they’d like to order in advance of dining in, or without taking a significant amount of time if ordering by phone.

Locally in Arizona, anyone avoiding particular foods can find CertiStar available at Joe’s Real BBQ, Topo, Oscar’s Pier 83, Chompie’s, Haymaker and What’s Crackin Café. There is also always an updated list available on CertiStar’s website at certistar.com.

Written by: By Shandee Chernow, President & CEO CertiStar

Shandee Chernow discovered in her late 20s she had life threatening food allergies. And not by a standard “test,” as many would think – by actually eating foods she had no idea she was even allergic to, only to discover she was by way of a traumatic reaction. You can imagine the anxiety and frustration that came with dining out to eat with friends, family and clients. Shandee knew the hospitality industry needed a solution – not only a software to make things easier on the restaurant, hotel, school or airline, but also on the customer – or person – with food allergies. Enter in CertiStar – a software launched in 2017 that allows for guests dining out to have a safer and easier experience by way of the MenuStar software. With a quick 3-second search, the restaurant server can tell the guest all the offerings on the menu they are in fact safe to eat by way of a green, yellow, red list of options. CertiStar is based in Phoenix, Arizona.

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