What is in this article?:
- How 5 restaurant chains went gluten free
- Pizza, Asian chains go gluten free
Concepts say gluten free isn't a fad; it's here to stay
A growing number of large restaurant chains — Domino's Pizza being one of the largest — are introducing and promoting gluten-free menus, citing increasing demand from consumers.
What the term “gluten free” reflects, however, can vary greatly from one restaurant to another, prompting those most at risk to call for a more standardized definition.
Wheat, rye and barley are the three sources of gluten protein that can cause health problems for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. For them, even gluten-free ingredients can become unsafe through cross contamination in restaurant kitchens.
A gluten-free food cannot be fried in the same oil as foods containing gluten, for example. Shared cutting boards or knives can also introduce trace amounts of gluten to an otherwise gluten-free dish.
About 1 in 133 Americans — or roughly 3 million people — are diagnosed with celiac disease, but another 18 million are estimated to have non-celiac gluten sensitivity. A growing number of consumers also say they avoid gluten for various other reasons — including those that feel a gluten-free diet is more healthful.
Take a look at five restaurant chains offering or testing gluten-free menus, in addition to their traditional offerings, and how they do it.
Chevys Fresh Mex
Introduced in May at about 42 corporate locations, Chevys’ new gluten-free menu includes a variety of dishes, from fajitas with garlic shrimp and enchiladas, to guacamole served with soft corn tortillas.
The menu was designed with guidance from nutrition consulting group Healthy Dining. Chevys also developed a company-wide training program to teach staffers proper food handling for gluten-free guests. Because restaurants do not have a dedicated fryer for gluten-free items, for example, nothing on the gluten-free menu is fried.
Chevys also developed a “GF” prefix code for its point-of-sale system for gluten-free items, and staff members are trained to follow specific plating instructions and recipes when a GF item rings up.
Domino’s in May became the nation’s largest pizza chain to offer a gluten-free crust option. However, the chain also makes it clear that cross contamination is a risk, and the pizza may not be an option for those with celiac disease.
The crust is made from rice flour, rice starch and potato starch. Domino’s worked with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, which offers training on catering to gluten-free consumers.
J. Patrick Doyle, Domino’s president and chief executive, said the chain wanted to meet the needs of customers asking for gluten-free options who may have mild gluten sensitivity.
“The prevalence of gluten sensitivity has become a real issue with significant impact on consumer choice, and we want to be a part of that solution,” he said.
Hear more about Domino’s gluten-free pizza crust