Should Your Restaurant Serve Gluten Free Items?

March 26, 2013 - 3 minutes read

When it comes to restaurant marketing, it’s impossible to predict and adhere to every menu request that a customer makes. So how do you know when a menu request crosses the barrier of being a trending food fad to becoming a legitimate concern that your restaurant should prep for? When it comes to deciding whether or not to modify your existing menu, start with national statistics. Statistics will give you clues on how you’ll want to modify your menu in the coming months or even years.

This year, it has been reported “one-third of U.S. adults said they wanted to cut down on gluten or avoid gluten in their diet all together.” It’s also important to note that, “the number of U.S. adults who say they are cutting down on or avoiding gluten is too large for restaurant operators to ignore.”

Knowing that one-third of US adults will be looking to exclude certain ingredients in their diet could mean important news for your restaurant.

What does gluten-free mean? Gluten is a type of protein that is often found in types of grains such as wheat.  Gluten is what gives certain foods their elasticity. When a person is intolerant of gluten, they often experiences symptoms such as abdominal cramps, gas and bloating. For more information, The Celiac Sprue Association can provide answers to questions about gluten induced conditions.

Now what? Given these uncomfortable and often painful symptoms, it’s easy to understand why some of your customers may be searching for gluten free alternatives. While these guests may seem like a headache, it’s important to remember that everyone eventually gets tired of eating every meal at home and, at times, would like to dine out. This gives your restaurant the perfect opportunity to be one of the few restaurants that may happily accommodate these specific patrons. With those statistics, there is sure to be a lot of them!

Restaurant Example Back Alley Burger, with two locations in Illinois, offers customers the option to get gluten free burger and hot dog buns by popular brand, Udi’s. By offering the choice to order a gluten free product, Back Alley Burger opens themselves up to a wider market of customers.


How can your restaurant accommodate? If you’re interested in accommodating gluten-free patrons, take a look at your menu to see what can be easily adapted. Specialize in pasta? Offer your patrons the choice to choose gluten free pasta. Do some small research and see what other restaurants are serving as gluten free dishes. If your gluten free choices begin increasing (keep track), it might be wise to create a mini gluten free menu. Also ask your food purveyor about the gluten free options that are available for your restaurant.



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