Gluten Free Trend: Part 2

By Richard Walker, Vice-President, Bellissimo Foods

First Steps…

First create a specific gluten-free menu or menu section.  For pizza, list the specific gluten free ingredients that may be added to the pizza.  Remember that there is hidden gluten in many products so ask your Delco distributor if you’re uncertain about a particular ingredient.  One of the decisions you’ll make is on how many sizes to offer.  Many pizzerias start their gluten free menu with a personal or small size so that a person can get what they’re looking for while other diners can feel free to order regular products.  If you learn that your operation has a greater demand for gluten free products enlarging portions sizes is a simple process.

Second, you have to market and merchandise your products.  The gluten free community is very active communicating amongst themselves so creating awareness is important for word of mouth.

Have printed materials that are highly visible.  Add a sign near your entrance that is visible for patrons entering and for anyone walking by that states you carry gluten free options.  Depending on your style of service, consider counter cards, chalkboards, wall signs, table tents, etc.  if you have a separate gluten free menu, consider adding a statement such as “Ask About Gluten Free” to your regular menu to attract additional attention.

Make sure you add information to your website, Facebook and Twitter pages about your gluten free offerings.  For those who are more active, search for Facebook and Twitter pages that deal with gluten free and “Like” or “Follow” them.

Menu Pricing…

Unfortunately, some gluten free specific products like pizza crust are more expensive than traditional products.  As a guideline, increase your selling price the additional cost of the gluten free product plus 25 to 50% of that.  Your food cost will be higher, but you’ll still be making more money.  Gluten free patrons don’t have the option to be as price sensitive and are willing to pay an additional cost to get quality, fresh, well-prepared, gluten free meals.  That being said, don’t price your gluten free items outrageously high or you will gain a bad reputation in the gluten free community, which may also affect your regular business.  Remember that one gluten free diner may be eating with their friends and family.

Gluten Free Handling…

Most restaurants are unable to guarantee a completely gluten free environment; particularly those that make any kind of wheat based baked goods from scratch.  However, most restaurants can take the steps to minimize the possibility of contamination.  Here is a list of typical precautions:

  1.  Store special ingredient gluten free items (like pizza crust) away from other items – especially flour.  The top shelf in a cooler or freezer is best.
  2. When a gluten free item is ordered, cooks should wash their hands and use a new pair of gloves.
  3. Prepare gluten free items well away from the prep areas for regular dough.  If possible, line the prep area with butcher paper while the item is being prepared.
  4. Designate special tools for gluten free.  A separate pizza cutter, knives, ladles, etc.  Make sure they are clearly marked and stored covered when not in use.
  5. Use specific pans or screens for baking.  Make sure they are clearly marked and stored separately.  Never place a gluten free product directly on a prep surface or directly on the baking surface in the oven.
  6. Consider baking pizzas in a specific countertop oven.  Even a home-style countertop oven may work.
  7. Serve with plates, utensils, and other service ware that are single use or have been properly cleaned and sanitized.

Remember, your Delco Foods Sales Representative can provide you with information on the gluten free products we stock.

To read Part 1 in our series on The Gluten Free Trend – click here

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