They say that necessity is the mother of invention, but in the case of AllergyEats (www.AllergyEats.com), the fastest growing source for finding allergy-friendly restaurants, it was Boston father Paul Antico that was inspired to take action. Antico, the father of five children – two of whom have severe food allergies – had a series of frustrating experiences dining in restaurants with his food-allergic sons, as some establishments wouldn’t prepare meals without dairy, nuts, eggs and his kids’ other “trigger foods.”
Antico realized that some restaurants were extremely accommodating, while others weren’t, and there was no way to know in advance which establishments would prepare meals that his sons could eat. He also realized that other food-allergic families were facing similar challenges. His solution: AllergyEats, a free website that provides valuable peer-based feedback about how well (or poorly) restaurants accommodate the needs of food-allergic customers.
Most restaurant review sites include information about establishments’ food, ambiance or service, but AllergyEats is singularly focused on food allergies, with peer reviews spotlighting where people with food allergies or intolerances have more comfortably eaten.
AllergyEats lists well over 600,000 restaurants nationwide, which food allergic diners can rate. The site also offers information on restaurants’ menus (including gluten-free menus), allergen lists, nutrition information, certifications, web links, directions and more.
“As a parent of food allergic children, it’s important to know in advance whether a restaurant can accommodate my kids’ unique food requirements. AllergyEats provides a forum where food-allergic families can exchange feedback and view information about restaurants across the street and across the country,” said Paul Antico, Founder of AllergyEats.
To rate a restaurant, users are encouraged to answer three simple questions about each of their dining experiences, which takes less than a minute. Then, the answers are compiled into an objective “allergy-friendliness rating” that provides at-a-glance information about the “allergy friendliness” of specific restaurants. There’s also a section for written comments, which focuses specifically on food-allergy related information.
AllergyEats is searchable by geographic location, and includes maps and driving directions to restaurants nationally.
A number of highly-respected food, health and allergy organizations endorse AllergyEats, including the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Gluten Intolerance Group, and the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. Additionally, AllergyEats is forming exciting partnerships with other organizations, including restaurant chains, food allergy organizations and more.
“AllergyEats combines the best of Internet technology with peer-to-peer feedback to help people select restaurants that cater to individuals with food allergies – and to avoid the ones that won’t accommodate their needs,” Antico continued. “It’s exciting to see how well the food allergy community is galvanizing around AllergyEats. They understand the value of the site’s ratings and comments, which represents real experiences from real people.”
Antico recently quit his job as a successful mutual fund manager to become a passionate advocate for food allergy issues. In addition to starting AllergyEats, he serves on the Board of Directors of the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America, New England Chapter. He also works with others within the food-allergy community to increase awareness about – and funds for – food allergies.
Today, there’s no known cure for food allergies, and people with food allergies must carefully avoid all “trigger foods,” as even trace amounts can cause a reaction. Reactions can include hives and swelling, severe digestive damage and/or anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal. Food allergies are the leading cause of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) outside of the hospital setting in the U.S., causing between 50,000 and 125,000 emergency room visits per year.
“I know from experience how frustrating, scary and even maddening food allergies can be. People with food allergies must be vigilant at all times, whether they’re at school, a birthday party or dining out at a restaurant,” Antico continued. “I realized that other food-allergic families were facing similar challenges, and I started AllergyEats to be a valuable resource to the millions of people in the food allergy and intolerance community.”
Since its February launch, AllergyEats has exploded in popularity, growing to thousands of members and restaurant ratings, demonstrating that the site meets a huge need within the food allergy community. AllergyEats has also experienced a tremendous surge of interest on its social media sites, with food-allergic “fans” regularly sharing ideas, recommendations and feedback on Facebook, Twitter and the AllergyEats Blog. Interest in AllergyEats has been accelerating dramatically as word spreads virally about the service AllergyEats provides to the food-allergic community.
For more information, please visit www.allergyeats.com.