More encouraging words on the trend toward gluten-free

Offering Gluten-Free is a Way to Differentiate

In reviewing articles that I was saving during the months leading up to the AllergyEats launch at the end of February, I came across a very encouraging one from the 8/14/09 edition of the Boston Business Journal. Entitled “Eateries hope gluten-free menus will bring in bread” (, the article paints a very positive picture for all those dealing with gluten intolerance.

“Gluten-free menus are popping up at restaurants across Boston as eateries discover that catering to customers searching for wheat-free alternatives can boost business.” This goes to the heart of many of my early blog entries (see “How much are we worth – The ‘Veto Vote’” —, which suggest that restaurateurs will act in the best interest of their profits. More and more, especially in an economic downturn, that “best interest” means trying to satisfy those with gluten intolerance or food allergies.

“Offering a gluten-free alternative is simply another way to differentiate in this economy,” the article states. “Business is precious and the more people you can accommodate … it’s just a good thing to do” (quoting Kevin Harron, one of the owners of Burton’s Grill). “Being in the restaurant business and succeeding is all about trying to satisfy your customers” (quoting Peter Christie, President of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association).

Articles printed elsewhere have quoted some restaurateurs as saying that the inclusion of a gluten-free menu has boosted revenues by 8-10 percent. In the restaurant business, where fixed costs are high, that is a huge profit driver – profits would rise MUCH greater than that 8-10 percent! Rich Vellante, executive vice president of restaurants at Legal Sea Foods notes that “although only around 5 percent of customers order gluten-free choices, it’s still a business boost to offer more choice to customers.” (That 5 percent surprised me as quite high. But if correct, it gives even more encouragement that the trend toward gluten-free will continue.)

Here’s the best way to sum it up, again from Rich Vellante of Legal Sea Foods. “They [those with gluten intolerance] are a very vocal group, they’re passionate and they’re extremely appreciative.”

Translation? This is a loyal customer base that will help drive long-term profits if you cater to them.

As always, I welcome and encourage your thoughts. Please click on “Comments” below to share your message. In addition, I would ask that you consider going to the main AllergyEats site ( and rate restaurants every time you dine out. By showing your support in this manner, AllergyEats can help demonstrate to restaurants nationwide just how large and concerned our food allergy and intolerance community is, and thus how important catering to us is to their bottom line. Profits drive behavior. Just ask all the Boston restaurants adding gluten-free options.


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