About Picknic

Our Mission

Our mission is to make it easier and safer for everyone with food allergies, celiac disease, gluten-free diets, plant-based diets, or other special diets to enjoy dining out. We do that in two ways:

  1. By providing the most robust and accurate information available anywhere, we make it simple to find restaurants and menu items that are appropriate for your diet.
  2. By working directly with restaurants, we raise awareness and create more options for people with food allergies or gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan diets.

Our History

In 2018 we began working with restaurants to help them better serve guests with food allergies, celiac disease, and special diets such as gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan diets. We still delight every time we hear success stories from restaurants and guests about excellent dining experiences that we have helped create.

In 2019 we began dreaming of an app that would make it easy to find restaurants based on their level of employee education, procedures for avoiding cross-contact, and their accommodations for specific dietary restrictions (gluten-free, egg-free, soy-free, etc.). Then, we decided to add dietary restriction menus and featured menu items so that anyone using the app could answer, “What can I actually eat there?”

In 2020 we built and released the first version of our web app. We spent a lot of time talking to restaurants and to people like you to understand what we needed to add (or subtract).

In 2021 we began rolling out upgrades to our web app and adding new restaurants. We’re making changes all the time, so what we have to offer next week will be even better than what you see now. If you like what we are doing or have suggestions for how we can make Picknic better, please let us know!

Our Stories

We are people that have to manage food allergies, food intolerances, celiac disease, and plant-based diets in our own lives every day. We delight in shared meals with family and friends, and we know the anxiety and difficulty that comes with dining out. We have backgrounds in healthcare, nutrition, food service, entertainment, and more. Here are a few of our stories.

I was diagnosed with Neurological Lyme Disease and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome many years ago. Due to the challenging nature of IV antibiotics, I went gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, sugar-free, and nightshade-free for a significant amount of time. Now, due to my current conditions, I have severe food intolerances that change and vary in severity quite often.

Given these nuances, I need to know every ingredient in every entree in order to know if it is safe for me to eat. I am so thankful for the information Picknic has provided, which when possible goes beyond the Top 8 allergens. This is particularly helpful when trying to find a restaurant that can help me avoid things like onions and garlic! Anyone else eat low sulfur?!

My experience with food intolerances and looking to heal from the damage of chronic illness led me to pursue a degree in nutrition. Food is medicine, and eating the right food for your body can play a huge piece in your overall health. I am proud to be a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner for those with critical dietary restrictions. I joined the Picknic team to advance the mission of Picknic for those with severe chronic illness. If that is you, I hope you can get to a place where food can be vitality and not anxiety!

Though I was only diagnosed with celiac disease in 2015, I’ve had it since I was a child. The symptoms were clear all the way back to my inability to gain weight and my gastrointestinal issues as a child. I had come to accept my gastrointestinal issues as normal, but in my 30s I began to experience muscular and neurological symptoms.

I had trouble focusing. At times I would just stare into space because my mind wasn’t there. These episodes left me distant from my wife and my kids. How many conversations, memories, and sweet moments have I missed because I just wasn’t there?

I also developed joint and muscle pain that made day to day tasks a source of dread. I can recall watching my mother pick up my son with ease. I actually asked her, “That doesn’t hurt?” I had become so accustomed to pain. I was astonished that someone 26 years my senior could do something I couldn’t do: pick up my child without mental preparation and wincing.

I started experimenting with my diet to try to improve my health, and that is how I discovered I had celiac disease. On day 2 of a ketogenic diet, all of my gastrointestinal symptoms stopped. I couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I wondered if it might be celiac, something I had heard of but knew nothing about. I requested that my doctor test me for it, and after a positive blood test and endoscopy, the results were clear.

Now that I am gluten-free and am recovering from years of damage from celiac, I have a deep appreciation for how food can literally change our lives. I also understand how limiting a restricted diet can be. Some day I believe we will understand CDRs enough to remove their limits. Until then, let’s expand them. That’s my hope for the Picknic community.

College can be a stressful time for anyone, but my freshman year presented challenges beyond academics or social concerns. That year was filled with health complications that resulted in a complete lifestyle change, including the removal of dairy from my diet. I never understood how deeply ingrained food is in our society until my food restrictions limited my ability to safely eat out with friends. As the years have passed, I have acclimated to this new lifestyle but eating out is still a challenge at times. For this reason, I strongly believe in Picknic’s mission to provide accurate and accessible information for those with critical dietary restrictions.

After adjusting my diet, I began working at a local bakery in my hometown as a “dietary baker.” I was responsible for preparing the allergen-friendly menu items, including baked goods free of gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, egg, and even sugar for those with critical dietary restrictions. During this time, I learned first-hand how to implement food safety protocols and manage the risks of cross-contact in a kitchen.

I am currently a Dietetics major in my final year of college and hoping to use my personal experience to improve the lives of clients or patients in my future career. Contributing my academic expertise and first-hand experience to Picknic, an organization that is dedicated to improving the lives of those with dietary restrictions, has been extremely rewarding to me.

Food allergies and intolerances can often feel controlling or limiting but with the proper tools, we can learn to adjust without compromising our lives.

I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease all the way back in 1999 at the age of eight. My parents knew something was wrong as I was struggling to gain weight and grow in height. I was consistently the smallest kid in the class and often outgrown by kids grades younger than me. After lots of testing, an endoscopy confirmed that I had Celiac Disease.

This was brand new to my entire family. We had never heard of Celiac Disease before and back in the late 90’s the products available were minimal. I took rice cakes and applesauce to school lunch for years because the gluten-free bread on the market tasted like cardboard. Going out to eat became a struggle!

I significantly remember a time when I was probably nine or ten eating a bowl of pasta at a restaurant. Our server had assured us it was gluten-free, and after dinner when the chef came out to check on us – we discovered that this restaurant did not in fact offer a gluten-free pasta! If only Picknic existed back then, that entire unfortunate situation could have been avoided!

As a kid, I hated and often refused to advocate for myself. Now, 21 years later I know how important it is to do so. I’ve successfully been able to eat in a college dining hall, travel the country with friends, and even go camping in the Australian Outback or visit a remote village in Thailand- all while having Celiac Disease!

Working with Picknic has been incredible. The food allergy community has been in need of a platform like this for so long, and I’m extremely excited to see Picknic grow!

My family’s food allergy journey began on a Labor Day beach vacation in 2012. We had no family history of food allergies and didn’t even know anyone who carried an Epi Pen. So, we didn’t think much of putting a little peanut butter on a piece of bread for our ten-month-old daughter. Her face immediately started swelling and growing large, bright red hives. Fortunately, this incident ended well. However, it did begin my long and winding process of understanding how to live life fully with food allergies.

Those first few years were full of confusion and anxiety as we navigated what was safe for my daughter. She ended up adding tree nuts, egg, fish, and sesame to her list of allergens. Resources and support were limited, but we were determined to educate ourselves and find a way for her to not miss out on life due to her food allergies. There were many unknowns, but one thing was certain: I did not want my daughter to be defined by or held back by her food allergies.

I was continually frustrated with how difficult it could be to find the information I needed and how much time it took to figure out if a restaurant was safe. Only a few restaurants published allergen menus. I had to find time to make calls at the right time of day to ensure the person I needed to speak to was available. Some restaurants were very knowledgeable about food allergies, others had no idea, and some clearly (and somewhat hurtfully) didn’t want to accommodate us at all.

I’m very thankful to be able to use my experience researching restaurants for my own family to benefit the entire Picknic community, where we are making it easier and safer for EVERYONE to enjoy eating out.

Join Us

We are growing and thoughtfully adding people to our team. We are looking for nutritionists, developers, data scientists & engineers, marketers, and PR professionals. But more than specific skills, we look for people that are creative, resourceful, and passionate about helping us accomplish our mission.

If you are interested in joining us, please email us and tell us why our mission is important to you.