This winter, gluten-free awareness in the restaurant community was feeling downright progressive! So many businesses and restaurants opened their eyes and took chances on gluten-free products. For celiacs, it was like the clouds parted and angels started singing from the heavens! But a little of that excitement has been brought down a few notches in the last week.
Starbucks Cake Axed
When Starbucks made its announcement that it wanted to develop a gluten-free product, there was a definite feeling of gluten-free acceptance among our celiac community. If Starbucks was publicly announcing its gluten-free product support — others would surely follow. The groundswell of support had celiacs across the country chiming in, voicing their gratitude and opinions on the tasty treats they would like to see when getting a coffee.
The company then spent a lot of time and money creating the Valencia Orange Cake. This one cake was defining the taste of gluten-free, we all had high hopes. May 5th came around, the cake was launched to a very welcoming and excited audience. Twitter was all a-twitter with celiacs asking each other if they’d tried the cake yet. Fast forward to last week, word came out that Starbucks had discontinued the Valencia Orange Cake. A Starbucks’ Tweet revealed the apparent explanation, “We heard that it was too much of a treat, and not a nutritious snack. The [Kind Snacks] bar is replacing it.” Ugh…like a shot to the heart.
Late last week Triumph Dining started a petition to get Starbucks to keep the cake, but who knows if that will have an impact. In the meantime, go enjoy a last piece of the cake for FREE by printing this Starbucks coupon. There’s a special free offer on pastries for this morning, July 21st– yes, specifically listing the orange cake as one of the qualifying pastries. I guess that’s one way to get rid of it.
Michello’s in Blaine Closes
Back in February, Michello’s here in Blaine, Minnesota was putting the finishing touches on its gluten-free menu…trying to make everything just right. The company had a separate oven for gluten-free pizzas, they made their own gluten-free crusts and baked their own gluten-free bread. It was the most progressive I’ve ever seen a restaurant be when it comes to gluten-free food.
I thought their gluten-free pizza was better than their original pizza. I even recommended FOX 9 talk to them when they did the story on the Mayo Clinic celiac study on July 1st. You can still watch the restaurant in action on the web, but not in real life. The entire restaurant abruptly closed down. Monday morning I saw a little note on their website explaining how the economic conditions forced the closure.
Why does this happen? Is it because of the tough economic times we’re in? Or is it worse — are we not enough of a market to keep the good stuff afloat? I worry about the latter more than the former. The economy ebbs and flows. But I really worry that if some of these companies can’t make a productive “go” of their gluten-free products or menus, other places won’t try and either scrap any gluten-free plans they had or get rid of products and menus all together claiming cost-effectiveness. Then we’ll be several steps backwards.
I need to hear of some positive stories — companies who are doing well with new gluten-free endeavors despite the economy. I want to to hear from people who believe that getting into the gluten-free market was one of the best decisions they made. I feel so discouraged, although I don’t want to be. Is anyone else feeling this way?
I don’t have any fantastic conclusion to this rant of mine, other than I am holding onto a hope that things will turnaround. But I also want companies to know this: don’t give up on our market. We are large in number, we’re educated and we’re loyal. We need this food. Please don’t let the economy or the losses of products like Starbucks cake convince you to stay away from the gluten-free marketplace. We need to continue with progress!