By Zach

Gluten-free eaters come in all shapes, sizes and carrying themselves with their own behaviors, which is an umbrella statement that can also be applied to stores and restaurants that service gluten-free foods. Here’s why: it’s hard to deny and not notice the emergence of new gluten-free options popping up each day, whether it’s in big grocery stores, small fast food joints or dine-in restaurants, but not all servicers of gluten-free menu options abide by the same protocol.

Some reports estimate that the gluten-free industry is worth $6.3 billion per year and is continuing on an upswing. This demand was propelled by gluten-free enthusiasts toward large businesses like Dominos and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro to small business like Fresh Brothers in an effort to join progressive forces throughout the gluten-free industry.

Though as some of you might know, Dominos and other newcomers that offer gluten-free alternatives conduct their gluten-free processes in a liberal manner that is not safe for people with Celiac disease due to high chances of cross-contamination. But there are places that are doing it in a more kosher manner.

To illustrate, a pizza joint with six locations in California seems to be picking up some slack where these restaurants dropped the ball. They’re called Fresh Brothers and their gluten-free pizza dough comes straight from a gluten-free facility (allowing no airborne pathogens), the dough is prepared in the cooler, all pans, knives and tools are specifically marked for gluten-free use only, and pizzas are cut on designated boards separate from the gluten pizzas. Adam Goldberg, the founder and chief execute of Fresh Brother says, “Gluten free is not a fad and it’s not a trend. It’s here to stay.”

Following a similar suit, Chuck E. Cheese (believe it or not) has gentrified their menu to accommodate a gluten-free choice.  They’ve tested six of their locations’ chocolate cupcakes and pizza in Minnesota. Their gluten-free pizza pies are made with rice flour and shipped frozen and in a pre-sealed bag from a gluten-free facility to the restaurant. The product design of their pizza allows it be baked in the bag and opened only before eating.

The China Bistro, P.F Chang’s, offers gluten-sensitive alternatives to their ingredients, sauces and dishes. A couple of their glutenless dishes are stir-fried Singapore Street Noodles and Norwegian salmon steamed with ginger. To boot, they also designate exclusive woks and plates with logos to gluten-free customers.

Whether a store or restaurant implements strict training programs to their staff or loosely defines their products as gluten-free, there’s certainly something to be said about the impetus of the gluten-free industry. It’s because of enthusiasts that gluten-free options are as available at restaurants as they are, and even though some gluten-free practices still need to be refined for Celiacs to reap the benefits, it’s a nudge in the right direction.