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Gluten Free Restaurant
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I've been following the posts from concerned cook about his thoughts on gluten-free cooking. I'm opening a bakery in Denver and have the space to put in a cafe but I'm still investigating it. My plan would be to make a cafe totally gluten-free but still serve the foods every cafe customer is accustomed to. Since I have a bakery on site, the bread, which would be the biggest hurdle for other restaurants, would be taken care of.

My question is, is there a need for this business? How many of us here would like a restaurant that we could go to where we wouldn't have to worry about contamination, where the owner was knowledgable?

I'm working with a business advisor who is strongly discouraging the restaurant. He feels there just wouldn't be enough of a draw. I'm feeling that there would be, especially since non celiacs can eat the same gluten-free food and enjoy it. After all, it's not like gluten-free food is substandard. I've had non celiac disease guests to my house who never knew the pizza, pancakes and other items, yes, even sandwhiches were gluten free. The only comment I get is that the bread is a bit heavier, more dense, but certainlly not bad. SOME EVEN PERFER it since, they say, the bread is like old fasioned, homemade bread.

Anyone's thoughts on this would be great as I am headed forward on the bakery and need to make some concrete decisions.

Thanks, Monica

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;) i think it's a wonderful idea :D --could you open one here on Long Island in the Islip area :) --lots of us celiacs here ;) --Denver is a bit of a drive for us :lol: deb
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I think it is a GREAT idea!! Your biggest hurdle would be the customer base in your area. I know Denver is very large, however what is the population of Celiacs in the area? Have you tried going to support group meetings and asking people there if they would frequent that type of biz? You might get a better handle on the situation from local people, they would be the ones supporting your venture. Best of luck with it!! I know if I had a place close to me like that, i would LOVE it.

-Jessica :rolleyes:

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There is one here in Louisville that does it called Cafe Fraisch. Thursday is gluten-free bread day and they offer regular gluten-free during the week.

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I love your idea but I can also see why your adviser would be nervous. The people who come to your house don't know it's gluten-free because you don't tell them, but the people who come to your restaurant will know. A percentage (my bet is it would be a fairly large percentage) won't even try it because of that. And celiacs alone can't support it. Even if I find the greatest place to eat with no gluten worries, I'm not going to eat there more than once a week, if that (especially while I have a child in college).

Kaili's Kitchen in Seattle has gluten-free baked goods and, from my understanding, is the only completely gluten-free restaurant in the U.S. She did great business last summer when the idea was new and people with celiac were flocking to try it. Everybody who went and posted about it said it is good. In fact, business was so good she expanded some. As of last month she was struggling to hold on, according to some people who live in the area. I haven't heard anything else this month. I can't say its solely because she offers just gluten-free food, but my impression is that's a good part of it.

There's a woman on the deplhi celiac forum who owns an upscale restaurant in Canada near Quebec. She has celiac but still has never considered taking her restaurant completely gluten-free. She has an extensive gluten-free selection and her whole staff is thoroughly trained in gluten-free dining, but she also has regular bread, pasta etc.

richard

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Thanks for the feedback so far. The restaurand I'm invisioning would be like la peep. are people familiar with that. I'd be open for breakfast and lunch only.

The celiac population of colorado is, by the 1 in 133 standard, 39000. 74% of the colorado pop lives in the Denver metro.

I hear the concerns about restaurant stability. Those are my same concerns.

Please keep the feedback coming.

Monica

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i think that 1 in 133 includes a lot of people who don't know they have celiac and i don't think it's really accurate to use to determine customers

i would LOVE to go somewhere like that, maybe you could also try offering things that aren't gluten-free but are vegan, organic, things like that to grab a whole audience of special needs diners? i went to a place like that in dublin a bunch of times and they always were PACKED and most of the foods would overlap (like be gluten-free and vegan and corn free). it didn't bother me that not everything was gluten-free because they knew what celiac was and understood it and other special dietary needs (and had awesome food!!)

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I agree that it's a great idea, but not a feasible business model to promote it as a "gluten-free restaurant".

Have you investigated a catering business that focuses on food allergies/intolerences as a specialty? Many people would use this option and then you aren't waiting for people to walk in the door... perhaps the initial investment would be smaller?

Good Luck!

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I'll have a bakery on site so that will bring the base of income for the business. It's just that I have a large space. Part of the space will be taken my a retail business. I think that the base population in Denver has enough known celiacs to support a retail site. I also have a website being built that will offer mixes and products on the web.

I'm not counting on that 1 in 133 knowing now that they have celiac disease. I coudn't keep up with that many customers in one location. That is just the potential. More doctors are testing for the celiac disease so the number of known people will grow over the years. Right now doctors are telling all ADD, ADHD, People with Autisim and IBS, Chrons, and other digestive disorders to go wheat free. I'm suspecting that many of these people are part of that 1 in 133. Time will tell.

As for the restaurant, I like the idea of vegan, that comes naturally to so many of my products. The bakery is already planned to be all organic. I went toward all organic long before I knew I had celiac disease just because I was looking for any possible way to feel better. I think that is true with a lot of celiacs. America is killing it'self with preservatives and white bread, but that is a whole 'nuther topic. :)

again, keep the posts coming. I'm going to print these off and keep them with my business plan.

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The problem is that only a small percentage of pople who have celiac have been diagnosed. I can't remember the number but I'm pretty sure it's less than 5 percent. If that's right, 5 percent of 39,000 is 1,950. But then there are also people with wheat allergy.

richard

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My husband and I were talking about this today. Would't it be

wonderful to have a restaurant that would cater to all the "special" diets?

We thought what we would like to see in it includes: Lo Fat, gluten-free.

dairy free, vegan, lo carb, vegetarian, bakery, take outs, etc.

I know we will probably never see this but if I only had some extra

cash.....

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You should look for a "more funky" area for it. . .since our diets are not normal American ones. I just think of Manhattan and how there are so many gluten-free places. . .and a cluster of them in Greenwich village, which is more funky. You want to be there for Celiacs and other health issues but you can also get the people who do the nontraditional lifestyles and diets! I also think it would be more accepted there. Most people I know don't want to try glutenfree if they don't have to, it scares them.

Very cool thing you are doing!

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I haven't had that experience of people not wanting to try gluten-free. Most people I've met want to try a taste. Some don't like it, true. My husband works for AVAYA telecommunications. His co workers wanted him to bring in samples so they could check out this gluten-free thing. My sister also, working for Oppenhiemer funds (spelling?) was also asked to bring in samples. in both cases all were gobbled up, so maybe people are getting used to hearing about gluten-free. Actually, my husband found a cartoon about gluten-free two days ago. I think awareness is really coming out. It's going to be interesting over the next few years to see how this all goes as more people are diagnosed.

Though I have to agree with all the skeptics, I really don't know if a totally gluten-free eatery would make it. That's why I posted this. I think an eatery could make it for a few years until restaurants catch on, then it would go out of business. That's why I wouldn't put all of my resources into it. The main thrust is the bakery which is 3/4 of my space. The up front would be retail (and possibly the cafe) The only reason I'm thinking of it is because I get sick almost every time I go out to eat even though the kitchens say they are being careful. I just think that it is really hard not to get contamination. Granted, I am super sensitive with gluten. But still, just because other gluten-free eaters don't feel sick, it doesn't mean they aren't being contaminated when they eat out. Since I wouldn't have any wheat in my bakery or retail space, the cafe food would not be contaminated.

However it goes, the cafe would be small, only 12 tables are planned. I would serve the special coffees too and at lunch time, icecream cones with gluten-free waffle cones. I'm planning on carrying all those fun flavors of ice cream that we can't have, brownie fudge, cookie dough, etc. I'll sell it in my store so having it at the counter would be no big deal.

of course it would be no big deal not to have the counter, cafe business as well. I'm still not decided, so if there are more comments, keep 'em commin'

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We have a gluten free bakery/coffee house about 50 miles away. On bread baking day, pie day, and payday the line is out the door. They also sell some staple products. In the small seating section they have Gluten free literature out on the tables. (Living without magazine and such) When I have been in she answers a lot of questions about the ingredients for multiple sensitivites. I would advise you to label clearly with maybe a color code system. It would save a lot of time during your customer selections. Gluten free, Casien free, seems to be the top request.

They just went on-line too. www.celiacspecialties.com

Good Luck!

Laura

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I have to say I love the idea of a totally gluten-free place to eat: however, if I don't want you or anyone else to have abusiness go under. I do have some places in my area that have gluten-free meals and we eat there on occassion, but for the most part it is a hastle due to location and lack of choices. I would have to say go forward with a modified version of your plan.

Keep the bakery. Fresh gluten-free breads that actually tasted good would be a wonderful thing for anyone. Incorporate a wider customer base like the veggans and other alleries listed in posts above. Safe foods are hard to find for any allergy group. Advertise the breads and baked goods EVERYWHERE. Sell on line and at local health stores and other places where Celiacs buy other products. Develop a wholesale type of business in addition to the store front. Offer something that would celiacs are dying for: baking and cooking classes at your bakery on select nights and weekends. Work on advertising gluten-free wedding cakes and catering.

I know I would not be able to convince my friends and family to drive out of the way on a regular basis just for a cafe. Once a month I make my trek to the health food store for supplies. But, I know I would gladly attend gluten-free baking and cooking classes on a regular basis and I would pay more for it. Maybe the super clubs where you spend a few hours and make a months worth of meals. . .

There are a lot of ways to still have the gluten-free bakery and not risk too much. As your buisness grows add the cafe if the need arises.

Best of luck and post when you are operational and if you can ship baked goods.

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In my earlier post I didn't realize you already had the space to utilize!

If you are going to have the bakery as your core business, putting in a few tables can't hurt! I can't tell you how many times I've yearned for a gluten-free bakery to bring my kids to, meet my friends for coffee, etc.

I'm sure you will get a lot of positive PR in your local papers when you open... instead of just sending out a standard press release, invite the press in and give them (or go to their offices with) your best treats --- after they've enjoyed them tell them what they just ate is gluten-free!

Their positive reaction in print may get the "skeptics" in your door! I know my favorite dessert (even before going gluten-free) was a flourless chocolate cake!

Best of luck, let us know how it goes.

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Obviously you know the restaurant business is a tricky one...most open and close quickly. I would not make your primary publicity be that it's a gluten-free restaurant, word of mouth in the Celiac community will take care of that. I would focus, like any good restaurant would, on the quality of your foods, atmosphere, etc... and let a sub-note be that it is gluten-free friendly.

Best of luck! Bridget

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Thanks for all the comments! It's giving me a lot to consider, thought I had thought about a lot of it already, it's good to know which points are most important.

hapy2b, thanks for your comments. One of the main reasons I wanted tables was so I would have seating for cooking demos and gluten-free type lectures. I think there is a huge need for information on cooking and lifestyle changes. I will do demos on how to use my mixes especially so that people have success at home.

I have a cake decorator so I can do birthday and wedding cakes. I did a cake this weekend for a Celiac kids group and had good response. It was enough to make me cry seeing how excited those kids were to eat a decorated "normal" looking cake. I was just reinforcement for me to say, "that's why I'm doing this."

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I recently noticed an advertisement for a gluten-free restaurant in Davis, CA in the Living Without magazine. Not everything in their restaurant is gluten-free (but most are, and they have gluten-free alternatives available), and of course it wouldn't be the same as a cafe combined with a bakery, but you could check out their site and get some ideas. They also offer cooking classes onsite and online. Here is the link. http://www.naturalfoodworks.com/

If you do open up, let us know. I have family in CO, near Denver and I would certainly make a stop over to taste your goodies. If you offer out-of-state delivery, I would try your bakery then as well.

God bless,

Mariann (in CA)

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Hello to all who are following this thread. Sorry I don't post or check as much as I'd like to. I'm busy trying to get things up and running.

I got the drawing for the layout. I'm excited that I can have a beer, wine license. Gluten free beer anyone??? I'm anticipating a March opening, possibly early April. I'll have the website up and running and orders will ship out. I have Discover Merchant Services for Credit cards, all kinds are accepted. I've had three cake orders in the last two weeks from people who just couldn't wait plus bread and cookies. I made a sorghum rice blend bread yesterday that I loved. It was even good this morning, cold and untoasted.

I'll keep this thread posted as to the happening and the open date.

PS. I'm buying an icecream maker for the summer and plan to put out all those icecreams that gluten-free's can't have. Brownie fudge and cookies and cream!!! yum yum

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I think it's a great idea. In the Northwest, just north of Seattle in a small town is a completely gluten-free restaurant and each time my wife and I have made the trek up there... it's always packed.

My personal view is, if the food is good people will come in a eat.

Best of luck with your venture!!

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Hi Deby,

i would make it completely gluten-free as well, if I were you. Just because one restaurant didn't work, doesn't mean, the rest isn't working, too. And I wouldn't go into a "funky area", like somebody posted on here. In "funky areas" are already enough gluten-free things to get. It's the people in other areas that need it... <_<

I think, a completely gluten-free cafe will work. You just need the right promotion, that means, promote it as a normal cafe with a short note, that also celiacs can eat there. So everybody will come. The thing with the cooking classes is a very good idea. Also the internet idea. You could also put a shelf in a corner of your cafe aside the baked goods, with stuff like gluten-free chocolate. Well, gluten-free chocolate might be a bad example, but i think you're getting my point? I mean, other hard to get or overexpensive stuff for celiacs. With a business license or what that is called you should get the stuff cheaper from the retailer.

And a nice trick that always worked for me. Don't only promote in newspapers, but online in message boards like this one here around your area. Or also these little flyers to all households in your area shouldn't be such a bad idea. And what is also a good idea is not only this catering service, but if you would deliver stuff home to people, something like a pizza delivery or so.

I wish you good luck with whatever you do and i would also like to have the homepage-name of your business, if you already have it.

Hugs, Stef

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"Sell on line and at local health stores and other places where Celiacs buy other products."

At the one health food store I go to they sell some local brands and it's cool.

The Vegan thing would help get customers. . .it is verywide spread and they would eat glutenfree things as long as they were vegan, too. So, you wouldn't have to have different options.

I love places that have gluten-free and veggie/vegan options!

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I say funky areas because it would be more accepted there. I live 20 miles from Atlanta and you find the full veggie and vegan places in areas where people have different lifestyles and eating habits. You would have people who want those types of foods there. The ones who would come in every day for lunch. I travel everyweek downtown to shop. There is a store that 20 miles to the north that carries some cool things but since it is all alone up there I rarely visit it.

I was just thinking of all the different cities I have lived in and all. Just seems the funkier places have more people who know about gluten and healthier eating.

If I ever come to your state, I'll be sure to visit your bakery.

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I know what you mean, MySuicidalTurtle, and you're right. A lot of business people think like that. But it's us people in the "non-funky" areas, who have problems with getting gluten-free food in a restaurant or cafe. And it would be nice, if here would be gluten-free cafes or restaurants, too. So that we don't have to drive 50 or 100 miles to get something. Why shall the "big city guys" always have the advantages???

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