Thanks again, everyone.
I could definitely understand why there'd be confusion if I had only *thought* it was going to be drinks all along, but that's how it was originally presented to me. Once I gave my notice, the party planners immediately sprang into action with "We've got to take you out for a drink before you leave!" Then they gave me a choice between two pubs within walking distance of the office. I ignored the menus at both places entirely when making my choice because a) it had been presented to me as "take you out for a drink," with absolutely no mention of a sit-down meal and b) I knew the chances I'd be able to eat anything from a pub/"bar food" type kitchen were slim to none.
Unfortunately, the party morphed from just drinks to a full sit-down meal literally overnight. Last I'd heard it was just drinks, then yesterday I got an email out of the blue saying "cocktail hour from 4-5, then we'll sit down at 5 and get dinner!"
I did just hear back from the woman who's heading up the organizing. It seems like she didn't realize I might not be able to do a sit-down meal with them, and she said something along the lines of "That's too bad, but I hope you'll at least be able to bring something you can eat so you won't be left out," so it does look like they expect me to stay through the meal regardless. I did just try calling the restaurant too, but no one picked up (though it is pretty early in the day).
So at this point it looks like my options are to check whether the restaurant kitchen can accommodate me, bring my own meal if it can't (and if it's allowed), or skip the meal. It's also looking like this party is going to be longer than I'd planned on (last I'd heard, it was *just* cocktails from 4-5).
I really do appreciate all the effort my coworkers are putting into the party, but I've got to admit, one of my pet peeves is when events just suddenly and unexpectedly balloon like this. I'm sure I'm going to have a great time regardless, but still, I find this kind of thing annoying.
(P.S. Toots and Mergatroyd, sorry you're dealing with celiac too! Best of luck to you. And yes, "stick to rum" was my original plan.
Another update: I just looked back through the email chain and realized that my choice of two pubs in the area was narrowed down from several suggested options based on the consensus of the other guests. In other words, the organizers floated the idea of several venues to the other guests without my input, they narrowed it down to two, and then I was given the final choice between the two. It's entirely possible that out of the dozen or so people they would have solicited for input, some would have had no idea about my diagnosis.
I should also mention that our office recently moved and we're all new to this area of town. Some people have experience at some of these venues through their own personal after-work cocktail hours with friends, others don't. Personally, I've never been to a single venue in this area since we moved just after I was diagnosed, and I've been religiously cooking all my own food since then.
I'm beginning to think this is less and less a party in my honor than an excuse for a party in general...