A recent family vacation trip to Fort Walton Beach has changed the lives of the Estes family, especially for 6-year-old Isaac.
Isaac was diagnosed with multiple life-threatening food allergies at four months old, which makes going out to eat impossible.
“He is severely allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, dairy and eggs,” said Holly Estes, Isaac’s mother. “We were told by another restaurant that LuLu’s in Destin had a separate allergy-free menu.”
Holly called to make sure if it was true and after confirming, the family decided to make the 30-minute trip to Lulu's Destin.
“It has been a crazy ride with him and people really don’t understand,” Holly said. “This was the first time he was eating at a restaurant ever.”
Holly said management took care of her family beyond what she expected and gave Isaac a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“The manager brought a bunch of tortilla chips, guacamole and salsa, and he (Isaac) looked at me and asked if that was all for him,” Holly said. “I said 'yes sweetie it’s all for you.' He was hesitant at first, but we assured him that it was fine.”
After indulging and enjoying chips and salsa, Isaac ordered grilled chicken tenders with white rice and a salad.
“He kept double-checking making sure it was OK to eat the food. He has never done this before,” Holly said. “I just wished more restaurants offered an allergy-free menu so more kids like him can have an awesome experience.”
The family continued the night by dancing, playing and singing the night away at LuLu’s Destin.
“When we finished eating, Isaac came up to me and said ‘Momma can I give you a thank you hug?” she said.
Holly said her family, who was visiting from White House, Tennessee, are definitely visiting again soon and returning to LuLu’s Destin.
LuLu’s Destin General Manager, Mike Butler, said the restaurant is aware of all of the allergies customers might have and always accommodates them with an allergy-free menu.
“I was thrilled that Holly felt we gave her special treatment, but we do that to all of our customers and take it very seriously,” he said.
When customers want to order from the allergy-free menu, the server alerts the manager and that manager will take the order and oversee it.
“We will call out the allergy station were everything is clean and sanitized, which is completely segregated from other food in the restaurant,” Butler said. “The manager will personally handle and serve the food to the customer.”
Butler said the allergy-free menu is part of their daily routine and the station is used daily.
“The idea is being able to treat all of our customers the same as they were family,” he said.