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Religious dietary restrictions & outside food in restaurants


Hello Chowhounders,

I come to you with a touchy situation. This evening, my graduate school seminar elected to have the second half of our four hour (ugh, I know) class at a local restaurant and bar. Normally, class runs from 4-8 p.m., and we take a half hour break around 6 so that everyone can get dinner. One of my classmates, an observant Muslim, tends to pick up a vegetarian Subway sandwich and bring it back to the classroom. She has told me that at Subway, she can ask the person preparing her sandwich to change his or her gloves, thereby ensuring her food doesn't touch anything non-halal. (I don't believe Subway itself carries halal meat products, but this is Michigan (huge Arab-American population) so this one might.)

Anyway, this evening, we didn't have our usual break, so my friend grabbed a sandwich and then met the rest of us (16 people, including a professor) at the local restaurant. By the time she'd arrived, most of us has ordered food up at the counter (there is no table service). All together, we probably purchased a good $200-$250 worth of food and drink. A manager came over and very aggressively told my friend that she needed to put away her sandwich, as the restaurant had a no outside food policy. She replied that there was no food on their menu that fit her dietary needs, and asked that she be able to eat her sandwich with her class. The manager stood his ground, and was quite unapologetic about it. (Okay, he was downright rude.) Ultimately, my friend decided to leave, and we were all quite upset about it, but certainly understood.

A few of us, including my professor, approached the manager to express our disappointment, and he kept saying he couldn't discriminate (ha!) and that the policy was the policy. (We were near no other customers, so I doubt her Subway sandwich would have started much of a trend.) My sense is that if my friend had come in with an allergy rather than a headscarf the manager probably would have been more accommodating. I also feel that given the large amount of money we'd dropped (relatively, I mean; this isn't an expensive place) and the fact that my friend was clearly with a class (and this place regularly gets business from university groups), the manager should have been more accommodating. Certainly, he could have told my friend that he would look the other way this time but to respect the rules in the future.

That said, what are the rules on this? I understand that it's generally considered bad etiquette to bring a meal from a different restaurant into a place, but does that apply to quick service restaurants without servers? Is it reasonable for people with religious concerns to bring their own food to the table so that they are not left out of the group?

I understand there may be health issues, too, but the manager never brought those up. I also respect the right of restaurants to ask that customers not bring in outside food, but it seems to be that some exceptions should be made.

Your feedback is much appreciated!

  1. Many restaurants have an absolute rule that no outside food be consumed on their premises. Period. I have no problem with that, as long as the policy is made clear upfront.

    1. I think it's an idiotic situation in which to enforce that policy, especially if it has the inevitable effect of singling someone out for something as touchy as religion. It's not like this was a fine dining establishment. If the place caters to students, it shouldn't alienate a class of them!

      Would it have killed him to do the math and just quietly bring her a plate and offer to remove the wrapper? Then she could have blended in more. He'd have done the classy thing and earned some goodwill.

      1. >but does that apply to quick service restaurants without servers?

        If that's their policy, yes. They're quite entitled to prohibit outside food, regardless of the style of service. Having said that, based on your description of the place and the fact that they get a lot of business from university groups, it doesn't sound a smart move on their part. Thinking of several restaurants near my uni, none of them have a problem with say one person in a group bringing food in, or people eating their own sandwich with their coffee. To me that seems like the more sensible policy. Still, it's up to them.

        >Is it reasonable for people with religious concerns to bring their own food to the table so that they are not left out of the group?

        I don't think it's reasonable to just presume that an exception will or should be made. By all means ask if the restaurant can make an exception to accommodate you (the general you) and give them the opportunity to say yes or no, but respect that decision. It sounds like the manager wasn't exactly demonstrating his best manners or customer service skills, but I'd say it's pretty ill-mannered of your friend to just whip out a fast-food meal in a restaurant where that's not the done thing, without even asking first whether it was ok. Unless I'm missing something, it sounds like she didn't even ask if the restaurant could prepare a suitable meal for her. Obviously I have no idea what their menu is, but you would think they could do a salad and a bread roll (or whatever equivalent fits their kitchen) at the very least... if, of course, she had asked. Or the manager could have offered, once she explained why she had brought in Subway. But I don't think anyone was really exercising their very best judgement in this situation.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Daisy.G

          it sounds like she didn't even ask if the restaurant could prepare a suitable meal for her. Obviously I have no idea what their menu is, but you would think they could do a salad and a bread roll (or whatever equivalent fits their kitchen) at the very least... if, of course, she had asked---

          You missed the point, At Subway, she can watch the employeee change gloves and see them assemble the sandwich, no unobserved contamination in the kitchen.

          The manager was insensitive, BUT not wrong. The professor had an obligation to know the rules before holding class at the restaurant.

          1. re: bagelman01

            How does a fresh pair of gloves at Subway eliminate unobserved contamination? Those pre-cut salad ingredients were prepared some time earlier in an unseen kitchen, and since being set out have been dipped into numerous times by gloved hands that have handled a whole range of ingredients. That tub of lettuce has been scooped into by hands which have handled all sorts of mystery meats, before you even walk in the door.

            Simply because of the way they make the sandwiches, cross-contamination between ingredients is virtually guaranteed. The OP's friend is apparently comfortable with that level of exposure to haraam foods, so the idea that any food at all prepared in the restaurant kitchen would be automatically unacceptable really doesn't follow. If the OP's friend only ate food from kitchens which solely prepared halal foods, that would be a different story, but it still wouldn't make it ok to plonk a fast food meal down on the table of a restaurant where that's not accepted practice -- which is the point.

            1. re: Daisy.G

              I completely agree with Daisy. The Muslim person is just splitting hairs or fooling themselves if they think that the simple change of gloves makes the food halal.

              As a poster pointed out below,if you are picky, vegetarian or have a dietary restriction, you expect not to have anything to eat sometimes. I am currently on a dairy free diet because I am BFing my milk allergic baby and I always have a larabar in my purse in case I'm somewhere where there's nothing for me to eat.

              Policy is policy. If you bend or break it for one person, other people want it bent or broken as well.

        2. If that's the restaurant's policy, then they have every right to enforce it.

          Your friend (or group) was in the wrong.

          3 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            See I disagree, not perhaps with the ahem "letter of this ~law~" but with the scorch the earth nuclear enforcement of it. To single out one person of this sizable group was beyond rude. Remember, this is also a hospitality industry.

            1. re: Quine

              She was not singled out by the restaurant.

              The restaurant has a policy.

              She violated it.

              Being a hospitality industry really has nothing to do with it.

              There are rules that we all have to follow -- whether it is in a restaurant, or a bookstore.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                I wonder what the restaurant managements reaction might have been had the young woman in question ordered something and then quietly sat there and ate her Subway sandwich and left the other food untouched?

          2. I have every sympathy with the situation, but I can't help but wonder why this has been made the restaurant's responsibility, and not that of the class, which decided to hold its session outside the accepted meeting place.

            If you were to hold class in a restaurant, why didn't anyone look for a halal place, or contact the restaurant in advance to ask about arrangements? It seems as if everyone was happy to arrange things to their convenience without a thought to their colleague, enabling an uncomfortable situation designed to single someone out and compromise her access to education.

            I understand that the class just wanted a change of scenery, but perhaps in those cases, the class should take it upon themselves to think of their colleague rather than let her fend for herself.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Lizard

              Well said. I think it was rude and unthoughtful for the class, though mainly just the teacher, to put the student and the restaurant's manager in that situation.

              1. re: Lizard

                I agree completely. This student has paid for the class and deserves to have equal access to the class as every other student. It's unreasonable to expect her to have to eat at 3:30 or 8:30 just so she can ensure she doesn't have to miss any of the portion of the course taught at the restaurant. It sounds like this is an area where there are probably plenty of options for groups that need vegetarian/halal offerings, so how hard was it to choose one of those? Either that or give an hour break for everyone so that those who can't eat at the pub can eat at a leisurely pace without having to miss any of class.

              2. I think we are dealing with that dreaded word 'entitlement'. Your one classmate felt entitled to bring her own food into a restaurant because it wasn't up to her standards for religious reasons. I am Jewish but don't keep kosher and I would feel just the same if a Kosher Jew did the same thing. Do not have expectations that you will be accomodated. See the post about vegetarian offerings recently.
                Your classmate could have called the resto ahead of time to see if it was appropriate and if not just eat her sandwich in the car and come in to join the others for coffee or a drink.
                If you are fussy or religious expect to go hungry on occasion. I was a vegetarian for 8 years many moons ago and it was not unusual to have nothing to eat on a plane that forgot my requested meal, in a restaurant that made nothing vegetarian and at people's houses who thought a ham bone in a minestrone or bacon in a quiche was ok.

                1. Lizard hit it right on the head.

                  What were you guys thinking and the Professor (hopefully only a TA would make such a gaff) owes your classmate a personal apology and the class an explanation of his/her insensitivity. Likewise the class should be completely and totally embarassed by not standing up for your classmate and leaving the restaurant when confronted with this real life situation. (Look up Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks in your history book as a lesson). And then you let her leave by herself? OMG

                  What ever happened to "got your back?" Here was an incredible learning experience and it has now turned into a finger pointing exercise at the WRONG party. Would you blame the pizza delivery person if the professor and class decided on pepperoni and sausage pizza for the end celebration and then blame the delivery person or the pizza owner?

                  It was not as if the class did not know of the dietary restrictions "One of my classmates, an observant Muslim, tends to pick up a vegetarian Subway sandwich and bring it back to the classroom." And since it is a graduate school let's assume the class has something between the ears. Then as a group you go to a place where one person has to make a left instead of a right at the front door. What were you thinking at the door to the place? Then when the manager of the place gives the bad news, instead of having a team approach, you all sit there and eat? And then you ask that they make an exception to the class' bad decision because of "the large amount of money we'd dropped?" And let's look at your verbiage... she was a "classmate" in paragraph 1 when you described her as a Muslim, but a "friend" in para 3 when the feces hit the fan? Interesting. And you throw the "D" card with discrimination, yup there was, but it was the class that should be looking up the word..you did this at the door where you had a choice, not the manager who was asked for an exception.

                  Jfood would suggest you approach the Professor and suggest that each of the class write a 500 word essay on how they failed in team dynamics and sensitivity training. This class needs to grow a set and understand personal responsibility...and you guys are graduate students and our future leaders. :-(

                  1. Well first, it seems that while the restaurant is certainly entitled to uphold the policy it would have been wiser for the manager to be more accommodating in this situation.

                    However, I believe that your friend would be much better of to work with the restaurant to ask them to prepare a meal that she could eat. I've never heard of a restaurant that cannot prepare a vegetarian meal upon request. And frankly this notion that the Subway of ALL places, is the paragon of non contamination is just silly. Asking a server to change a glove is no way to ensure that the vegetables and bread have not come into contact with non halal ingredients. These are fast food sandwich chains, they are not in the business of ensuring that halal ingredients do not come into contact with haram ingredients.

                    1 Reply
                    1. Well, just like with the Rose Beranbaum thread, everyone decided to draw a line in the sand here. The restaurant could have bent a little, especially if only one person in a large group had a Subway sandwich. The group could have been smarter about where they went.

                      Lemonfaire, what city were you in? I can't imagine any place in Michigan that wouldn't be kissing your collective butts in gratitude for the business.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: coney with everything

                        Once again - as in the Cakage instance, I see bad actors all around.

                        The group should have conferred before picking a place; if there was any question of whether appropriate food was available or could be brought in (plating charge?), the Moslem woman should have checked with the restaurant prior to assuming; for a large group with a good tab, the restaurant could have been more accomodating. The manager was technically right (no question about that), but certainly could have handled it better.

                        It's pretty much a perfect storm of short-sightedness and lack of consideration by all concerned.

                      2. It was bad etiquette on your classmate's part not to check with the restaurant ahead of time and to just show up with outside food. Not only is it rude, but it is also a health code violation. Restaurants are subject to fines and can lose licenses for allowing such things. Yes, the manager could have handled it better, but it is not his responsibility to teach an adult their manners.

                        1. hmm. nobody i know who is strictly halal would trust a subway--boy does that detail seem off. . . as others have noted, cross contamination is pretty much guaranteed. however it seems your classmate is comfortable with this, so assuming you're not making the entire scenario up, whatever works. . .

                          first off, the prof (or whomever organized the outing) is at fault for not choosing a place where everyone's dietary restrictions can be reasonably accommodated. since you say you live in an area where there is a large arab-american population, i find it hard to believe that your class could not have chosen a halal restaurant. an all-vegetarian restaurant would have also worked well. i'm assuming the organizer was going with her/his own comfort zone or a personal favorite on the restaurant choice, and displayed egregiously bad etiquette in this case (or maybe the venue was voted on by the class, and the majority were wanting to drink beers during the session?). so if anyone is at fault for the "D" word, it is the organizer of this class outing, and it's something that should be addressed with this person, and if that person is a university prof/other employee, maybe even through a board of regents/directors, since your classmate is legally entitled to equal access to education regardless of her religion, and this is a pretty serious breach of that (the muslim student could very well have grounds to sue the school, you know?).

                          the manager and the restaurant was well within their rights. it isn't okay to bring food from one restaurant into another one no matter who you are or what the issue is. just because there are no servers at a restaurant doesn't mean it's okay to bring in a bag lunch or a six pack of beer and take a table and just hang out for a couple hours, or to otherwise treat the establishment like it's a picnic shelter in a public park. the proper thing for your party to have done would be to have contacted the restaurant ahead of time to see what kind of accommodation can be done for an individual with dietary restrictions. a vegetarian meal could have been prepared for your classmate prior to the rest of the day's prep (***way*** better than the glove-swapping method at subway), a catered meal could have been ordered from a halal establishment which the restaurant has a relationship with for this exact reason, delivered, plated by the restaurant. . . all sorts of things could have been done. you would at least have had a conversation prior to forcing the issue on the establishment where they had no choice but to be confrontational in exerting their legal rights. as you state, it's a *hospitality* establishment-- it wants to work *with* people, not *against* people, but there are both laws and rules, and you have to afford the restaurant the chance to dialogue with your group-- and not just make off-base assumptions that you get to do whatever you want.

                          it's never going to happen, but in a just world, your prof would also apologize to the restaurant manager for putting him in such a regrettable situation. incidentally, here's how i read your third paragraph: when you/your party didn't get your own way, your prof grabbed "a few" students, cornered the manager in his own restaurant, and your little gang attempted to change the rules to suit yourselves. you "expressed our disappointment," exerting considerable pressure on the manager to be "more accommodating," and let your party do whatever it feels like, since there are a lot of you, since you are highly connected with such and such rich and powerful university, since you are otherwise special and entitled, and after all, the manager and his staff are just working class peons who don't even work at an expensive restaurant with servers-- they should kiss your collective highly educated butts! then when he didn't budge and acknowledge you as his betters, you implied that he's not a real professional person and you all could/would do his job far better than he-- then when he *still* stood his ground against the group of you, you implied that he's a racist or called him such outright. you threatened him and his co-workers (working-class people's livelihoods. in a depression. in michigan.) with loss of business from others at the university, despite not really having the power to make that happen. i mean, you're clearly special, why can't everyone see that and just forget the laws, rules, and house policies when you walk in the door?

                          in short, you (& when i say "you" i mean your party, not you personally) were thoughtless of others, starting with your own classmate, which resulted in a perfectly avoidable and very public situation where you were legally wrong and remarkably poor guests, then you proceeded to make an ugly scene. . . then you bullied someone, and otherwise went to great lengths to ruin many folks' day. not exactly the altruistic and enlightened behavior i'd hope for from our nation's best-educated. just a thought: why not take a look at who's really in the wrong here, stop asking the world for special treatment, have a little consideration for others.

                          1. Thanks to all of you for your insightful replies. I did a couple things this morning: 1) confirmed that there was no sign at the entrance regarding the no outside food policy (not that this negates the right of the restaurant to have one); 2) did a little Googling and discovered that the guy I presumed to be the manager is apparently the owner, and he apparently has a reputation for being rather abrasive. Unfortunately, in a university town, at a place that is practically on top of the university, businesses don't have to provide service to retain customers.

                            I think, ultimately, we were more upset by the aggressiveness of owner than anything else. Had he not come over yelling, I suspect my friend would have shrugged and put the sandwich away, and we would have eaten quickly and retreated to somewhere more welcoming. But, I think a number of the posters here are right: the class and the professor need to accept responsibility for putting our friend and colleague in a difficult situation, and our friend shouldn't have assumed that bringing in outside food wouldn't be a problem. I hope she knows that we would have been more than happy to have gone to a vegetarian or halal place, but I understand her reluctance to speak up when a class out was first discussed, especially since the prof suggested the location, and that location is a pretty regular spot for university functions. (Likewise, I also understand that other people in my class might have thought about speaking up, but didn't want to single her out.) But certainly, we're all to blame. Lack of foresight all around, and probably not the best response in the moment, either. (Although not nearly as ugly as some seem to think it was.)

                            A few things I want to clarify, however:

                            Regarding the Subway thing, agreed, it seems like an unusual distinction to me, but I don't think any of us have a right to question what she deems halal. Clearly, this is a personal practice based on personal beliefs and experiences. For all I know, she's been going to this Subway on a regular basis for two years and has someone there whom she trusts to prepare her sandwiches. I'm sure the restaurant owner was peeved that she deemed Subway 'cleaner' than his kitchen, however.

                            I would also like to clarify the nature of the conversation between the professor/classmates and the owner. Some folks on this board seem to think that the situation disintegrated into a shouting match -- it didn't. The conversation that occurred between the prof and the owner was private; she most certainly did not 'round up' graduate students, and knowing her as I do, I sincerely doubt there was any bullying or haughtiness. Those of us who did address the owner did so of our own volition, and, as far as I know, those conversations were respectful. I too am really frustrated by people who vent their frustrations on people in hospitality and customer service; this wasn't happening here, but yes, we were asking for what we felt was a reasonable accommodation. I now realize that many people feel that this wasn't in fact reasonable.

                            Finally, in describing the student in question (now that sounds awful) alternately as my classmate and my friend, 'classmate' indicated that she was part of the university group. I suppose I could have just used 'classmate' throughout, as ideally, we stand up for people we feel have been wronged whether or not we consider them friends, but in this case, the woman is definitely my friend.

                            Thanks again to all of you for your feedback. It was definitely a learning opportunity.

                            12 Replies
                            1. re: lemonfaire

                              you will rarely if ever see a sign on a restaurant window or wall saying no outside food permitted. It's a given.

                              1. re: smartie

                                OK so a Mom feeding a toddler "cheerios" from plastic bag while they wait for their order; should have a raging manager/owner confront her about outside food?

                                It's a given right? No exceptions, no entitlement, right?

                                1. re: Quine

                                  what I said is you will rarely if ever see a sign. And yes I do believe it's a given that you do not have prepared foods brought in from outside though I do think exceptions are made for babies and toddlers.

                                  1. re: Quine

                                    rethinking this one a bit - maybe it deserves a post of it's own but apart from bringing jars of baby food into a restaurant when my kids were babies, I never ever brought cheerios or raisins into a restaurant. We got the restaurant to bring bread over asap and ordered something for the little ones soon as we could.

                                    I have worked in places where mums brought cheerios and I can tell you they make a monster mess.

                                2. re: lemonfaire

                                  For me this was an enlightening and sensitive thread. I am continually surprised by CH in that what I would have thought would have been the response, wasn't. And this is a good thing ( it is always helpful to find one is not as smart as one thought). What did the OP expect the consensus would be? Since there are no CH emoticons (another good thing)my question is meant as curious, not critical. And, of course, the OP is under no obligation to answer.

                                  1. re: Sinicle


                                    I don't think I expected there to be a consensus of sorts, but I, (I think) like you, anticipated a more nuanced discussion of customer service and a little more sympathy for the guest with the special dietary requirements. Actually, though, I think there was a fair bit of sympathy expressed, albeit indirectly: by pointing out that the blame should be shared by the class, the other posters were effectively saying that this situation shouldn't be painted as my friend vs. the restaurant owner, but rather a situation that was the result of a series of poor decisions by multiple parties. I think this is a very valuable observation, and I thank Lizard for articulating it so well and so diplomatically.

                                    If there was anything that surprised me, it was the assumptions that some of the posters made about graduate students and professors and the way we do or should engage people outside the academy. (I've posted enough to anticipate inflammatory replies; I just didn't expect these particular criticisms.) I realize academics are frequently accused of being elitist and aloof -- and yes, there are certainly some people who fit this description, but I think they exist in equal proportion in the 'real world' -- but the colleagues I was with at this restaurant are anything but. It's good to be reminded that there are stereotypes about most professions, and that we need to work to defy them. And it's good to be reminded that some people actually view us as (potential) community leaders -- it's a nice change from being told your work is mostly irrelevant!

                                    But what were your expectations? I posted because I suspected there would be a variety of opinions on the situation, and thought CH would reach a thoughtful, diverse audience.

                                    Happy the post was useful for both of us.

                                    1. re: lemonfaire

                                      Lemonfaire, I'm with you on the shock regarding the hostility directed at and assumptions made about the class and the prof. I avoided posting responses to those because those would have certainly been less than diplomatic. Your response was nice.

                                      1. re: lemonfaire

                                        I also thought that some of the criticism was a bit over the top. I mean, I wasn't there, so I don't know how the whole situation went down, but it seems to me that with a large group buying and eating food, there was precioius little harm done by one little sandwich. Sure, "restaurant sets the rules" yada yada. But sheesh. Personally recently my family was visitng colleges (thus college town) and after we were done with one tour and info session we went to get lunch before our drive home. My kids and I wanted pizza so we went into a small shop and ordered. My husband the health nut went next door to the twigs and nuts cafe to get a salad. He brings it into the pizza shop. we eat together. Granted it was three in the afternoon and we were literally the only people in there, so he wasn't taking up extra space. We weren't confronted. If we were, sure he would have gone to eat in the car (but with some rolling of eyes I'm sure). It just seems that given the circumstances, a bit more flexibility would have been nice.

                                        But in thinking a bit more, if your friend had done the equivalent of going to "sit in the car to eat" whatever than might have been (sitting on a bench on the sidewalk for example), maybe the collective empathy of the class might have reacted with a "hey, forget this place, this isn't working, let's get out of here". Which maybe would have been best in the end.

                                        1. re: DGresh

                                          so-- just to check in that we're all on the same page:

                                          situation #1--guy walks into a burger king, sits down at a table, unwraps a big mac and starts eating. the franchise manager comes over and tells him that the outside food (from a competing business) isn't allowed in his/her establishment, please leave.

                                          situation #2--you go to meet your friend at an independent coffee shop near her/his home. since you've never been there before, but you know you love the starbucks triple chocolate nutty crunch with whipped cream and sprinkles, you figure you'll just stop by the starbucks drive thru on your way over and carry in your own starbucks product. there is a nineteen year old coffee house employee working by her/himself, and to your surprise after chatting with your friend for only about five minutes the young whippersnapper asks you to please make a purchase from the establishment or leave.

                                          situation #3--a restaurateur finally opens her/his family owned independent restaurant. regardless of the price point or service model, the menu consists of family recipes carefully developed for the restaurant's customer base. a four-top (or six-top or sixteen-top) enters the restaurant and the majority of the folks order off the menu and are served. some party members open plastic bags from fast-food chains and proceed to eat their quiznos subs or kfc or five guys or what have you at the table with the others. the owner, let's call him "hubert keller" or her "maria the tamale grandmama" approaches the table and asks the offending party members to please take their fast food and go. (incidentally, what is the difference between hubert keller and maria the tamale grandmama in this instance?)

                                          situation #4-- bob wants to see a concert at his local nightclub. but the drinks are so expensive! something about a percentage going to the performer or some such baloney. bob can see the show and enjoy a cocktail for much cheaper if he picks up a pint of whiskey at the lq ahead of time and just orders cokes from the bartender at the club. then bob can craftily top off his coke with some whiskey, get a nice buzz, and still enjoy his favorite band. unfortunately for bob, somehow a bouncer figures out what he's doing! halfway through the first set, two burly doormen ask bob to leave! they won't even refund his ticket, the fascists!

                                          you're saying that in each of these 4 situations, the owner or employee is in the wrong and the non-customer is in the right? the non-customer has the right to use the privately owned place's facilities, employees, space, etc, and anyone who approaches the non-customer to say otherwise is in the wrong, is being rude, has their panties in a bundle, deserves to get "the eye-roll," is not being "accommodating?" if so, please explain. i am having a little trouble following the op's logic, you see.

                                          someone also please explain why it's appropriate for a university professor to expect a business owner to ensure her/his students are getting equal access to education. do we really believe this is the first graduate student this education professional has *ever* encountered that has religious dietary restrictions? taking care of the students and ensuring equal access to education is the prof's *job*. if s/he excludes folks from participating in class this is a problem. a problem of the prof and of the university, and not the owner of a restaurant. trying to demonize a business owner because an education professional messed up big time and/or doesn't pay attention to her/his own ethical responsibility to her/his students is a bit much, no? guess i'm the only one who sees it that way?

                                          got another question re: the local establishment's menu and the meaning of the word "accommodating" but i'm out of time for the moment. thanks for the civil and enlightening discussion

                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                            I don't think the OP was trying to demonize the owner. I think she brought up this discussion with an opinion of how things might have been handled, but also with an open mind, wanting to know what others thought about the situation. I have enjoyed reading all sides of this, and i appreciate that the OP didn't really come here looking for validation that her opinion is the "correct" one. Many people post something under the guise of wanting feedback but get really argumentative when people disagree with how they thought things should have unfolded. This has been a pretty interesting and enlightening thread to read.

                                        2. re: lemonfaire

                                          I, too, expected a somewhat more sympathetic response, but still thought some very good points were made in a respectful manner....now if Congress were all CH....

                                      2. re: lemonfaire

                                        I have to agree with the person above that said
                                        "It's pretty much a perfect storm of short-sightedness and lack of consideration by all concerned."
                                        As someone that has been a vegetarian, I feel that the responsibility is on the person with dietary restrictions. Also, I have friends that follow a Kosher diet and they pretty much just stick to a vegetarian diet when dining out. Your friend could have at least looked at the menu and tried to order something, OR eaten before the class. OR, if the place was agreed on together by the class as you say it was, it was her responsibility to say something at the time.

                                        On the other hand, I understand there are rules in our world for reasons, but I also think there are exceptions to most rules. The owner could have let this one go.

                                        I'm not sure what you are majoring in, but in Education, this is what we would refer to as "A teachable moment" it seems you have learned from the situation and hopefully in the future will use this new information in a positive way.

                                      3. my thoughts are:

                                        1) the class or the professor chose the restaurant for the outing knowing full well that one of the participants could not be accommodated there.

                                        2) the professor or the class did not even give the restaurant the courtesy of a heads-up or an advance request to provide something for the student.

                                        3) the class or the professor KNEW that her needs COULD be accommodated at Subway, but they, themselves didn't want to flex enough (or care enough) to try to have the whole group eat at subway.

                                        4) the manager should not have to justify such an obviously reasonable policy.

                                        5) your 'grading' of the manager's response should, at the very least, include a FAILING GRADE FOR THE CLASS/PROFESSOR for not treating the restaurant reasonably and not having respect for their reasonable policy. in fact, you knew<< there may be health issues>>. there is no logical reason for you to be grading the manager on whether he brought these up: <<I understand there may be health issues, too, but the manager never brought those up>>

                                        6) imho, if the table we are talking about is a RESTAURANT table, it is NOT reasonable <<for people with religious concerns to bring their own food to the table so that they are not left out of the group?>> . if you brought food into the classroom or into someone's private home, that might be another story. in this case though, nobody in the class nor the professor cared enough to arrange for the actual consumption of the food to occur in a location that would be an appropriate one for the girl to bring her own food.

                                        1. Hi all,

                                          We've gone ahead and locked this thread and removed some posts that dealt with specific issues of religious discrimination.

                                          The Chowhound community is an amazingly friendly and tolerant group--they disagree vehemently but politely about all sorts of food issues. There are a few flash points where that friendliness goes out the window and we get angry responses and flames.

                                          We need to keep Chowhound flame free to preserve the friendly atmosphere that's vital to the sharing of chow tips, so we keep those 'hot button' issues off the table.