Each of us has at least one food that we simply refuse to eat, and there may be others that we do not care for or should not eat. This may be due to health reasons, religious prohibitions or just personal preference.
Most of the time this is not a problem on restaurant mystery shops. The guidelines may state that you must order an appetizer, entree and side, but not specify the exact menu items to be ordered. There are shops (usually fast food), though, that will specify specific foods to order. Even if you may choose any menu item you wish, there may be limitations on special requests, such as asking for sauce on the side or substituting items.
So what if someone has a long list of foods that can not or will not eat? Can they still do restaurant mystery shops? Sure! Here are a few tips anyone can follow to make sure their food preferences do not clash with the mystery shop requirements.
Read the guidelines. If the full guidelines are available, review them to see what you must order. Even an email offering an assignment will generally describe ordering requirements. Most of the time they do not require that you order specific items, but sometimes they do. If so, make sure it is something that you will eat.
Consider your companion. Restaurant mystery shops often allow or require that you have someone with you. Does your companion have dietary requirements or preferences to be considered? For example, because my husband does not like seafood I would not accept a secret shop at a seafood restaurant. Your companion may be willing to eat things you are not. If there is a requirement to order something you will not eat, perhaps your companion could order it.
Know the menu. Most restaurants post their menus online, so you can review them prior to accepting a restaurant mystery shop. Make sure that there are dishes both you and your companion will eat.
Be cautious with special orders and substitutions. In general, when you are secret shopping you should not special order items that are not on the menu. You may be able to request modifications or substitutions, but read the guidelines to be sure. For example, you might be able to ask for your burger to be served without grilled onions, or that they substitute mashed potatoes for french fries. Some shops, however, specify that you not ask for any changes to the standard item, so verify what you may order before doing the shop.
Do not order “to go” unless allowed by the guidelines. If you must order something you do not want to eat, do not assume that you can order it “to go” and take it home. You may, however, be able to take a few bites then ask for the dish to be wrapped up for you. It all depends on what the guidelines say, so read them carefully. When in doubt, ask your scheduler.
And what about alcohol? There are restaurant mystery shops that require the shopper to visit the bar before or after the meal, or even to eat at the bar. The shop may require that at least one alcoholic beverage be ordered. If you do not drink, or do not wish to drink “on the job,” your companion may be able to fulfill this requirement.