Am I Having a Gluten Reaction?

I am constantly amazed by the customers who come in after a long hiatus and say they are getting “glutened” all the the time, their antibody levels are up and they need to come here more often!  Wow, you really have to be getting exposed to gluten on a regular basis for your antibodies to go way up. There are 3 major reasons why this happens to people so often.

  1. Cross Contamination
  2.  Eating an item that does not have gluten ingredients in it but is NOT labeled GF and not 100% GF
  3. Eating at a new restaurant or any restaurant the has “GF” offerings but is not dedicated GF.

I read recently that if you are getting exposed to gluten more than once a month, you are asking for problems! Why is it a problem? Gluten affects every cell in your body because Celiac Disease is an auto-immune disease! The problem I see is that people are not recognizing the symptoms when they are having a reaction. There are more than 300 Signs and Symptoms…you can have a few or many.  Click Here for 300 Signs & Symptoms

Recently, a Celiac customer, who lives in Arizona was in town. Yes, she is a regular customer, because she is here every day that she is in town; we see her more than some people who live 5 miles away! Anyway, she told me what happened to her out in Arizona and how sick she was getting…eating anyplace that had a “GF” menu.  As we talked it was apparent that she was not recognizing the symptoms she was having for about one year! She thought she had a “handle” on this GF stuff. Yes, sinus and ear infections, headaches, inflammation, knife like pains, gall bladder attacks, etc are symptoms! She ended up in the hospital. She also said she was eating “GF” Cheeri-Oh-Nos in addition to eating anywhere with a GF Menu! (see 3 previous blog posts on “GF” Cheerios; they are not GF folks!) Stay tuned, I plan to let her tell her story in the next week or so!

Gluten reactions vary from person to person and the amount of time between exposure to gluten and the time of symptom manifestation varies from person to person. However, for the most part, the reactions become more severe the longer you have been off gluten.

That being said, a person who is constantly being exposed to gluten tends to stay the same and not improve after diagnosis. They never will improve unless they get the gluten out of their system…(6 to 9 mos with no gluten exposure).  I have been dealing with this for almost 30  years and I know the pattern of symptoms that appear and how they evolve in me when I get exposed to gluten!

For me, I will get severe acid reflux within 1 hour and then I know I am in for 10 days of hell! I have a racing heart beat and pains in my legs by the time I get home and into bed. I fight the urgent need to vomit. Sometime in the evening or the next morning I have sharp knife like pains in my right side, diarhea and vomiting at the same time, migraine headache, bloated abdomen. I start sweating profusely and prefer to lay on the cold tile floor of the bathroom and quite franly, it is just more convenient for me than running to and from my bed! By about day 3 the joint pain, constipation, DH Rash (dermatitis herpetiformis; it looks like excema and is the skin manifestation of Celiac Disease which can be biopsied for diganosis), brain fog and Ataxia start to set in. For me, ataxia is the inability to speak in complete sentences, stumbling and falling when trying to walk, walking into walls. By about day 9 or 10 I have MS type reactions, with involuntary muscle spasms in my legs and arms.  I takes about 9 months (to the day) for my DH rash (on scalp, arms, elbows, knees, ankles, face and sometimes with sores in my mouth, nose and ears) to clear, and that is how I know all gluten is out of my system.  If I were to keep getting exposed to gluten, the rash will never go away.

With an anaphylactic food allergy, you know right away…you take benedryl and/or reach for you Epi Pen! With Celiac reactions, it is not so easy to know what is happening, especially if you are newly diagnosed or if you are a child, you can’t always communicate it to your parent. Below are some examples of what customers are sharing with me when they come in.

In just the past month I have had several examples that I thought might help you:

  1. A family come in with their child who has celiac disease and they came once when first diagnsoned, but for the past two years they have been eating at any place that claims to have a GF Menu! The child’s doctor said that the Celiac antibodies were very high and they have to stop eating out so much, unless it is at a completely GF place! Well, they came back to see me and Mom said “we need to come here more often”.  The child had the tell-tale signs that I always see in kids, dark circles under the eyes, tired, cranky or mood swings and complaining of stomach aches.
  2. An adult, living in an assisted living facility, has not been feeling well. Family brings her in once a month or so.  She said she was losing weight too. I asked her if they checked her antibodies, she said they don’t really follow it for her. I asked her if there was a change in her diet and she said she started eating “GF Cheeri-Oh-Nos” a few months ago and has them every day for breakfast.  I recommended they run new blood work and go get some knock off “cheerios” that are truly GF.  (search this blog to read about the Cheerio-Oh-nos drama)
  3. A child who eats here once a week was having stomach aches and symptoms. He had started eating Cheeri-oh-nos. They pulled them out of the diet and he is feeling much better.
  4. An adult, diagnosed at least 5 years ago, felt she really had good control of her diet and started eating anywhere that offered a GF Menu. (she lives out of state and comes here a couple of times a year).  She was having intestinal pain, constant ear infections, sinus infections, bloating and just feeling very sick.  It finally occurred to her that it was gluten exposure on a consistent basis. After eating “Cheeri-oh-nos” she ended up in the emergency room. She finally purchased a Nima Sensor and is testing everything.  She said, the trick is to take samples from all parts of the meal, mix them up and then put them in the sensor to test.

Here is a great article on Gluten Reactions: Click Here

What should you do if you think you/your child are getting exposed to gluten? First, get  to your gastroenterologist and get checked out.  Stay safe out there gang and take a close look at your habits!  Look at what and where are you eating.

 

 

 

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Another One Bites the Dust

Wow, this makes me sad; seeing another place bite the dust! I definitely loved Eva Ruth’s Bakery in Middletown, RI when I went back “home” to see family!  They had a full bakery and did a few sandwiches too.

Some of you probably remember me writing about my visit a couple of years ago. I was so happy to be able to support this awesome place when I went back to visit family.   Not only did they make great GF; they also made great Dairy Free items.  This was an awesome safe place for me when I was there 2 years ago.  I wish I could have visited more often but I have only taken 1 vacation in the past 5 years.  The website is down; this is what Ruth had to say on their Facebook page:

Dear Valued Customers of EvaRuth’s Speciality Bakery:

After seven years of business, the bakery will be closing permanently. This is a very difficult decision for me to make since my love for the bakery, its mission, and of course for you as customers remains undiminished. Concerns however related to my health and revenue make this decision best – while hoping that EvaRuth’s product line might again become available to you. The store’s final days and hours are:

Friday, April 21st 9:00am – 3:00pm and Saturday April 22nd 9am – the sale of all prepared foods and frozen bakery products. First come – first served.  Once again, I thank you for your dedicated patronage over the years and hope the best of health for each of you!  

Lesson: Please support the Gluten Free & Allergy Free places who’s sole existence is dedicated to keeping  you and/or your child safe when eating out!

Thank you Ruth for sacrifice on behalf of the Celiac and Food Allergy Community!Eva Ruths GF Bakery

Another GF/AF Cafe Closes It’s Doors; Wake Up Call!

Last year I told you about a gluten-free (GF) cafe/bakery closing in Harrisburg, PA and a GF burger place closing north of Philadelphia, PA. Here we go again folks, another one bit the dust last week and second one is no longer 100% GF. This is so upsetting to me and I share this type of information with all of you because I want you to think about this sad reality and hope it sinks in and you will support those who are doing it right! I did my own mini investigation. Below, I tell you what I believe happened with the latest casualties in the completely GF/AF arena. (AF=Allergen Free)

New Day Gluten Free & Peanut Free in Ellisville, MO closed their doors after 5.5 years. They served breakfast, lunch and dinner and enjoyed 4.5 and 5 star ratings.  They were about 23 miles outside of St Louis. This is the post from their Facebook page on 9/16/16 and it is also on their website:

“It is with great sadness that we write to you tonight to inform you all that the doors at New Day Gluten Free Ellisville will be closing effective immediately. It has been a true labor of love to serve this community for the last 5 and a half years, yet with our current staffing issues and lack of sales we have to cease operations. We are still working toward and are hopeful for a new central location, but are unable to make a move at this time. …”

I know they had great products based on their reviews and how long they lasted in a sparsely populated area. They want to re-open but will have to re-invent the wheel in some way to get more customers. Lets look at what most likely happened to them.

First; the population of Ellisville is only about 10,000 people; St Louis’ population is a little over 300,000 and we can add in sparser suburb populations. The glaring problem that I see is that another GF Cafe opened up in St Louis and a mini chain with 2 locations (dedicated GF prep space; Find Me GF App allows them to list as dedicated GF). That is a lot of competition! When the competitors arrived closer in to St Louis, less people were driving out to Ellisville.  I can see from the above that they were struggling due to lack of customers/sales and when 3 competitors popped up, this is what took away quite a few of their customers and they could not survive.

Maybe a move into downtown St Louis (3,0o0 Celiacs = 1% of population) will help. If each person with Celiac Disease was eating in Ellisville twice a month..they could probably have survived. However, I know from experience that this was not the case and I don’t believe that 4 establishments can survive given the limited number of people who actually need to eat at these establishments. A move closer in may work for them and they may put the other GF place out of business. The place that has 2 locations and also serves mainstream meals will survive because 99% of their customers don’t eat GF!

Moo Cluck Moo no longer GF:  (outside of Detroit with a population of 688,701)  Last month, folks around Dearborn Heights, MI (population 95,000) and Canton, MI (population 90,000) were freaking out because Moo Cluck Moo (chicken place) announced on their Facebook page that they were moving from only serving GF buns to introducing regular buns and just offering a GF Bun option. Reviewers on the Find Me Gluten Free app went crazy, giving them 1 star ratings (after many five star ratings previously) and people were ranting and raving about how awful it was and saying that they would lose the support of the GF community. I understand that this is upsetting to the GF community; maybe they should have supported them more to begin with! There are also 4 other facilities showing as dedicated GF in the vicinity of Detroit; I can see why they had this problem. Supply and demand is the problem.

I have to give you all the REALITY; neither of these places had the full support of the GF community; that is why they were forced to make the decisions that they are making!  

Moo Cluck Moo was not making enough sales to stay in business while being completely GF. The owner clearly stated this in an interview by saying that they were not making a profit doing what they were doing and he was paying himself less than he paid his employees!  A popular GF Blogger wrote about it too. My thought bubble after reading all of the comments on one blog (many of them were nonsense) was:  “What do you expect them to do? It appears that many of you would rather have them go out of business instead of changing their business model to one in which they can survive and stay in business?”

 It is clear that not enough GF people (GF & Peanut Free in New Day’s case) chose to do this and to make matters worse and what pushed them over the edge was the competition; it spread the customer base so thin that it will be hard for more than one to survive staying completely GF. Moo Cluck Moo just decided it is not worth the headache because they can’t make a living. Think about it gang… is it worth doing it if you can’t take a paycheck or make a profit?

This is a another wake up call for the GF/FA Community.  These were very highly rated restaurants who responded to the pleas for safe GF/AF meals and were doing it right! What a restaurant cannot overcome is the lack of sales; which is due to the lack of support (people showing up) from the communities they serve. Many customers do support these establishments but not frequently enough and there are many reasons for this. Some reasons are the distance needed to travel, preferring to eat at mainstream restaurants who offer GF items (complain when they get sick) and finally there are those who just assume everyone else is supporting the GF/AF place.

I am sure there was a small group of regulars who were supporting them. However; if most of the GF customers only show up once every 6 months, these businesses can’t survive and it is even worse when several completely GF places open up; supply and demand rears it’s ugly head and there just are not enough customers to sustain them all or sometimes even just one of them!

*If they were in NY City, with a population of 8.4 million, not to mention tourists, there is plenty of room for competition!

We are so thankful for our customers (6.5 years for our frozen food line and 4 years for our cafe, deli and bakery). You might be wondering what the population of Ellicott City, MD is…65,834 & close by Columbia is 100,000. We are not immune; we also suffer from the same common problem; lack of customers. All I can do is tell you what is going on; I can’t make you all support those doing it right; that is completely up to each one of you. These places will only stay in business by you showing up and creating the demand at the places who are doing it right.

Thank you to New Day Gluten Free and Moo Cluck Moo for making a valiant effort on behalf of the GF & FA communities. I feel your pain and can truly say, “I get it”. Thank you for your efforts.

new-day-gf

 

 

Public Perception Of Celiac/Food Allergies

restaurant-gluten-free-joke

We all get to that place of utter frustration when it comes to dining out safely.  We walk away shaking our head saying “they just don’t get it”. Why is it so hard to eat out safely and how can we educate the public in order to change this? Let’s explore our plight and several ways that we can change the public’s perception.

Those who have Celiac Disease feel this frustration but we need to remember how much easier it is for those with Celiac Disease (CD) or Gluten Sensitivity (GS) than it is for those with life threatening Food Allergies (FA).  If you have both; it can be next to impossible to dine out. Those with Autism experience this when they put their child on a gluten-free or other special diet.

I feel like the Celiac Community just wants it all and they want it now; not really understanding why it is so hard for a restaurant to safely feed them. (Keep reading, I will tell you the top 4 obstacles to safe food)  Many clearly expect every restaurant to be able to safely serve their dietary needs.  For those with severe food allergies, they know it is life or death for them, so they don’t make such a big deal about it and simply choose to go without because it is safer. Yes, it is hard if you have CD or GS but it is even harder to have FA and that is why those with FA don’t take risks dining out because most places really don’t get it.  Think about it Celiacs; if cross contamination could kill you, would it be worth all of the risks that you take when dining out?

Where is the awareness? In Maryland they passed a Food Allergy Bill, but it is only voluntary. Only 3 of more than 30k restaurants took the training! Mmmm, it seems like the serious nature of a Food Allergy or Celiac Disease is not getting through to the general public.

Then, last month, Ted Cruz (running for president of the US) made an uninformed comment promising that he would not support the military supplying Gluten Free (GF) MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) to those who needed them. MRE’s are often used when deployed in remote areas.  This comment hit close to home for me and shows just how ignorant the masses are about Celiac Disease and Food Allergies. (A person with a wheat allergy would need GF MRE’s). I thought to myself; how can anyone be so uninformed? Yet, as I pondered this, Ted Cruz is certainly not alone when it comes to his ignorance about Celiac Disease or Food Allergies.

On Sunday, a friend and customer, Ben Andrasik, stopped in the cafe for a meal and some treats for his kids.  Ben served two tours of duty with the military in Afghanistan and wrote a book about his struggle and survival without GF meals. It gave us a chance to catch up and chat about some things. We discussed the public perception and we both feel that biggest struggle we face is lack of public awareness or understanding of the seriousness of Celiac Disease and Food Allergies. (You can read Ben’s book here at our cafe, it is in our library and it is called Gluten Free in Afghanistan by Cpt B. Donald Andrasik. You will have a chance to win a copy of his book at the end of this post.)

Contrary to what you might think; you can serve in the military if you have Celiac Disease. They just don’t go out of their way to safely feed you.  However, the military will accommodate a person who chooses to be vegan. Mmmmm.

 

The Top 4 Obstacles to Safe Food:

-# 1 Lack of Education of the general public about the seriousness of Celiac Disease and Food Allergies. The general public only hears about people eating gluten free as a diet trendnot as the only prescription to treat Celiac Disease.  In my opinion, that area is where our Celiac non-profits are failing us. The general public does not think Food Allergies are serious until someone they love has an anaphylactic reaction and this is shocking to me.

Let’s explore some statistics in the chart below. Notice how many Americans are living with Celiac, Food Allergies and Autism. Then look at the other diseases and how many are living with them. The numbers are far less for the rare diseases, but we all know what those rare diseases are and would not diminish their legitimacy or the prescription given to those who suffer from them! Since when does the only “prescription” to treat a disease come only in a “pill” or “injection” form from a pharmaceutical company? Why does the lack of a “pill” make Celiac Disease and the Gluten Free Diet not a legitimate disease and treatment?

I put this graphic together back in 2010 and it is still relevant today with a few updates to it…but it is still shocking.

CDGSAutismAllergies Photo

Given the numbers above, you would think that Celiac Disease and Food Allergies would be a top priority in the United States, but they are not viewed as legitimate by the mainstream public! Lets look at the totals as compared to Type 1 Diabetes:

Celiac Disease: 3 Million plus  18 Million Gluten Sensitive  = 21 Million

Food Allergies: 9 Million Adults plus 6 Million Children      = 15 Million

                                                                                                   Total = 36 Million Total

Type 1 Diabetes:                                                                               = 3 Million Total

How did we learn about many of the above rare diseases? Were we taught about them in high school? No. Did we have a family member with one? Possibly.  Primarily, we learned what those rare diseases were by their non-profit organizations and foundations raising awareness in mainstream media; via ads in TV, mainstream magazines and newspapers.

Remember Jerry Lewis doing telethons every Labor Day weekend for Muscular Dystrophy?  We hear about ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), who did not see the “bucket challenge” last year?  All of the above rare diseases have gotten the word out because their non-profit foundations are utilizing mainstream media in addition to marketing to those affected by the disease.

There are just as many people living with Celiac Disease as there are with Diabetes..many have Celiac too, but you would never know it when it comes down to the attention given to each! If Type 1 Diabetes could only be treated by diet and there was no insulin, you bet your “arse”  restaurants would be pandering to this population.  However, Diabetics have two Rx’s; diet and/or insulin. Diabetics control diet by counting carbohydrates & reducing sugar.  Sugar and carbohydrates are required to be disclosed on nutritional labels making it much easier for a person to manage their diabetes.  Yet, a Celiac must avoid Gluten, and is not required to be disclosed on labels. Mmmmm.

#2: Gluten is not required to be labeled or disclosed on nutritional labels. This is the main reason that mainstream restaurants struggle to feed Celiac’s safely! Yes, the Gluten Free Labeling Law passed; but it is not mandatory; it is voluntary only. In the US they only have to disclose wheat! Rye and barley don’t need to be disclosed and gluten can hide in many forms, natural flavors is one place. Mainstream products don’t need to tell you if there is gluten in them or not, they tell you if they want to!  In the US, they have to tell you if the recipe includes the top 8 allergens: wheat, milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, shellfish. Did you notice that rye and barley are not on the required list? (In Europe and Canada this is less of a problem because they label gluten and many additional allergens).

The #3 Reason: Manufacturing companies don’t need to prevent cross contamination! Yes, you read that correctly.  They only have to tell you what is purposely put in the product and if it contains the top 8 allergens. They don’t have to tell you if they accidentally contaminated the product with any allergens or anything else when processing or packaging.  They are also allowed to use the term “natural flavors”; so they don’t give away their “secret” ingredients; which could be anything!

#2 and #3 are why mainstream restaurants can’t safely feed you!  Really, come on, why would you expect them to get it right given the above? Are you having a light bulb moment?

The #4 Reason: We are not being heard by the general public! Currently, our associations are only getting the word out in media that is targeted at those of us already living with Celiac Disease or Food Allergies! We will never be taken seriously if the mainstream public is not educated and the mainstream media is only talking about Gluten-Free Fad Diets rather than Celiac Disease &/or Food Allergies.

Open any GF/AF Magazine and you usually see an ad from one of our associations. However, you don’t see this type of ad in mainstream publications.  So, when a person running for president of the US is clueless about Celiac Disease and does not know that the GF Diet is the only Rx for it..that tells me our message is not being heard by the general public.

On the contrary; if Ted Cruz made a remark like that about diabetics and pledged not to provide insulin or a low carbohydrate MRE’s for diabetics in the military and did not know what diabetes was; we would all say he is clueless and not fit to run for president being so un-informed! The world knows about diabetes. The world and the mainstream media don’t know about Celiac Disease or the seriousness of it because our message is not being heard!  Isn’t that amazing when there are just as many people with Celiac Disease! (not to mention Gluten Sensitivity and Wheat Allergies)

How Do We Get the Attention Needed for Celiac and Food Allergies?

We can whine and complain about not being respected but that does us no good.  What we need to do is demand that our support associations spend some of our donations on a media campaign to get the word out into the mainstream. If you flip through a gluten free magazine or food allergy magazine you see ads for associations.  I would love to see those ads in Time Magazine, People Magazine or in major newspapers. They would just need to gear the ad towards the seriousness and symptoms, thus creating awareness.  By putting the advertising money into mainstream news media; the public will be educated about the seriousness of our plight. It will raise awareness and diagnosis rates! (The Autism community has done a great job about getting their message heard). Even my local Quest Diagnostics advertises symptoms of Celiac Disease and the blood test for it in a big poster in their waiting room.

Our dining out problems won’t be solved until there is a ODC Cafe, Deli, Bakery in every major city or if we change our labeling laws, manufacturing regulation and educate the public about Celiac & Allergens..

Beaver and Wally

“Gee, Wally, I wonder which one will happen first?

“Ah, come on Beaver, I am thinking more ODC’s!”

Without comprehensive changes in all four areas, it is useless. Example: the voluntary GF Labeling Law is not currently enforced because it is voluntary without oversight. Hence; General Mills recalled 1.8 million boxes of not really GF Cheerios.  Mmmmm.

-The general public must be educated about the seriousness of Celiac/Food Allergies.

-We must have stricter labeling; mandatory gluten disclosure and stricter food production laws in order to ensure safe food.

In the US, we united around the task of sending a man to the moon (my uncle was using a “slide rule”, before computers, to do the math in order to make it happen). Somehow, 50+ years later, we can’t unite around educating the general public or passing laws to serve safe food to those with celiac or food allergies.  I hear horror stories from customers who tell me about people saying “nobody had food allergies when I was growing up, they are just made up” or, “a little bit won’t hurt you”.  As I have said before, we can send a man to the moon but we can’t safely feed our people and that is just stupid!

How do we change this?  So, yesterday, when Capt Ben and I were catching up and discussing Ted Cruz’s comments we both agreed that the mainstream does not recognize Celiac Disease as the reason for the GF Diet. We can whine among ourselves or we can ask our associations to put some of our donations towards  a mainstream media campaign and get the word out to the general public!   With Celiac Diease Awareness Month coming up in May, Ben was kind enough to donate 10 books for me to give away for this blog post.

Here is how you win a copy:

Send me your creative suggestions on ways to get the word out and fix the 4 big problems:

  1. How can our associations get the word out to the general public about the seriousness of Celiac Disease and Food Allergies?
  2. What can each of us do to personally further our own cause by spreading awareness?

The 10 best suggestions will get a free copy of Gluten Free in Afghanistan! Email me at onedishcuisine@yahoo.com by Tuesday 4/12/16. Make sure you include your name and a way to contact you if 1 or more of your suggestions wins! (I will post the top suggestions in the next blog post)

Thanks Capt B. Donald Andrasik for your service to our country (a country who is unwilling to serve you a safe meal while you are serving us by defending our freedom)!  Gluten Free in Afghanistan is a great read and it should comfort you to know that Ben survived two tours in Afghanistan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 Yr Old’s Food Allergy Birthday @ One Dish Cuisine

Most children can go to parties and eat anything they want, they can go to sleepovers and their parents don’t have to worry about food making them sick, or worse, killing them.  I know that I sometimes take for granted what we do here and how special our cafe, deli and bakery is for those children with Celiac Disease and/or Food Allergies. (see photos below)

A few weeks ago I was giddy, like a child, as we hosted a birthday party for 9 year old Matthew; who is Allergic to: Wheat, Rye, Barley, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Egg, Shellfish and Sesame. The best part was that he was able to have Pizza, Cake and a Video Game Truck out in our outer parking lot. Even better; Matthew’s friend, Nick, also has a Milk Allergy and was able to come in and order whatever he wanted and enjoy the same cake as the rest of the gang!

Twenty of Matthew’s closest friends and family were here at One Dish Cuisine Cafe, Deli and Bakery for some fun and safe food. I don’t know who was more excited, me or Matthew. It truly made my day to be able to provide a safe environment for him.  Watching his excitement being able to have all of his friends at his own party was a thrill for me and the staff here too.  The best part was that his friends were so thrilled to come to “Matthew’s Restaurant” and be able to eat a meal and have birthday cake with him; instead of Matthew watching them eat! His friends see him go without at school and at other children’s parties and they were so tuned in to how special this was for him.  The best part is that all of the kids loved the pizza and cake.

This is what makes me wake up and smile coming to work each day!  Just give us a call if you need to set up a special day for someone in your life.

 

 

 

 

Another GF Bakery/Cafe Closes It’s Doors

BlogLogo

Another GF Bakery/Cafe Closes!  It always makes me very sad when I see a gluten free business close.  A couple of years ago we saw Freedom Bakery in Severna Park, MD close it’s doors after 3 years.  Magnolia Cafe in Byhalia, MS, closed in June, great food but in a town with only 3,000 people; they did not last long. Now we have Betsy’s Bakery in Harrisburg/Camp Hill, PA closing their doors after 3 years. They notified the public via their facebook page on 8/1; with their last day being 8/8. This got me thinking about why this happens and ultimately, if they have a great product, it is usually from the reduced number of customers that these specialty bakeries/cafes struggle to serve. If people don’t come in, they can’t pay their bills.

However, other factors can contribute to the demise; such as an inferior product and poor management. Most could weather the storm if they have a great product and the number of customers stayed constant. Betsy’s had a great product! We all know that gluten free and allergen free is more expensive.  Why is it more expensive? It is supply and demand; business owners just can’t control that market factor which makes our cost of doing business much higher than regular restaurants or bakeries.

The next big hurdle is the labor or manpower that it takes to make everything from scratch. When I talk with other GF business owners, our biggest frustration is that some of our customers say that they want a product that won’t make them sick; which we deliver, and then they complain about the cost. I hear that from customers too. They pay more in the grocery store for GF/AF products, why would it be different in a restaurant?

Here is an example:
A customer goes to a local “coal fired” pizza place and gets a pre-made 10″ GF crust that is topped on site and they pay $11.95 for a 79 sq inch individual pizza and agree to the disclaimer that they cannot guarantee it to be GF when they place their order! Or the other place that makes square pizzas that are not guaranteed to be GF and pay $7.99 for 8″ pizza (64 sq inches) that is not guaranteed to be GF either. Our small pizza is 12×9, 108 sq inches for $16.99. Below is the price comparison per square inch:

-Coal Fired: 11.99 divided by   79″ =  15.1 cents per sq inch for 10″ round pizza; hope it is really GF!

-Square:       7.99 divided by   64″ =  12.4 cents per sq inch for 8″ square pizza and hope it is really GF!

-One Dish:   16.99 divided by 108″ = 15.7 per sq inch for 12×9 fresh pizza & know it is safe & have leftovers too!

Knowing the above, when people come in and complain about the price when ours is made fresh, in our dedicated GF & AF restaurant, vitamin enriched and less than 1 cent higher in cost than the coal fired place and 3.3 cents higher than the square pizza place, it is all I can do to control myself!

So, in summary, many reasons contribute to the closing of completely GF restaurants and bakeries and the biggest factor is the lack of customers compared to other mainstream restaurants/bakeries. The regular restaurants out there feed 95% of the population and we only feed 5%.

Often I hear this statement from some in the gluten and allergen free communities; “there is no place safe to eat”. I don’t see how they can make that statement when they are not supporting the one that is safe and is within 5, 10, 20 or 30 miles of them!  Here is an example. Last week, we had customers in for the first time; who live 12 miles away and have known about us since we opened. Two of the family members are Celiac and they just got around to coming in here; three years after we opened! They were so nice and I am so glad that they came in; I always say “better late than never”. However, GF/Allergen Free restaurants really need your support  when they first open and throughout the year. You don’t want to make the trip only to find out that they went out of business last week; something that I think will be happening in Harrisburg/Camp Hill for a while!

There is so much excitement in GF media when a chain starts offering GF menu items.  Where is the excitement for the completely GF/AF place?

It is my hope that customers will realize this and support their local GF/AF free restaurants, who have risked it all in order to safely serve them. These restaurant owners are the ones who give it all, risk it all and lose it all if they are forced to close. So, if you live near a dedicated bakery or cafe that offers a great GF/AF product, please support them. If they close and have a great product, it is usually from not enough customers; especially if they have been in business for a while.

As always, thank you to all of our customers who keep us going here at One Dish Cuisine Cafe, Deli & Bakery. Also, a big thank you to all of those who have given all and started a GF Bakery/Restaurant to serve their communities!

Betsy's Bakery Cafe, Harrisburg/Camp Hill, PA
Betsy’s Bakery Cafe, Harrisburg/Camp Hill, PA